HC Deb 20 April 1934 vol 288 cc1311-58

Order for Second Reading read.

1.10 p.m.


I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

I have been very pleased at the harmonious proceedings this morning and at the congratulations that have been deservedly tendered to various Members who have introduced different Bills, but I am rather apprehensive as to what my fate will be at the end of this Debate. I sincerely hope that I may be in the very pleasing position of some of my hon. friends who have preceded me in being able to receive the congratulations of the House and of the Secretary for Mines. If it is left to him, I am sure he will give them to me in full measure. We are not going to discuss the definite principle of a minimum wage for miners. That principle was embodied in the Act that my Bill proposes to amend, and has been carried out since 1912 in the districts scheduled in the 1912 Act. In that Act it states that it is an implied term of every contract that people working in a pit shall be entitled to a minimum wage, so that with the time at my disposal I want to deal principally with the changes that my Bill proposes to make in the original Act.

In Section I of that Act it is stated that the chairman of the minimum wage board in any district or the board itself, in considering what the minimum wage should be for any particular class of workmen employed in a mine, should only consider the average daily earnings of that particular class. In this amending Bill we ask that that should be extended and, seeing that there has been a considerable change in the economic position, not only of miners but of every class of persons in the community, that this Bill should give permission to the district board or to the chairman to give consideration also to the cost of living over and above what it was in July, 1914, and to make provision that they could add a percentage to the existing minimum so as to give it exactly the same purchasing value as it had in 1914.

I will give a few examples, and I will deal first with piece-workers in South Wales. Their minimum in July, 1914, was 7s. 4d., and at the present time it is 8s. 3d., but if this Bill becomes law, it will raise their minimum to 10s. 5d. The day workers in that coalfield get somewhat less than the piece-workers. In South Yorkshire the minimum in July, 1914, for qualified coal getters was 7s. 11½d., at the present time it is 9s. 7d., and if this Bill becomes law, it will be raised to 11s. 3½ In West Yorkshire, where in July, 1914, the minimum was 7s. 8½d., it is 9s. 3d. at present, and the addition for which we are asking in this Bill will make it 10s. 11½d. In Lancashire in 1914 it was 7s. 1½d.; at present it is 8s. 7d.; and the addition desired in this Bill is 10s. 1½d. In Northumberland in 1914 the price was 7s. 0½d. and 7s. 10½d., the latter figure, I expect, including rent and coal; at present it is 7s. 8½d., and if this Bill gets the consent of the House, it will raise it to 10s. and, including rent and coal, to 11s. 2d. In Durham in 1914 the minimum was 7s. 0½d.; at the present it is 7s. 11d.; and in accordance with the provisions of this Bill it will be 10s. In my own county of Cumberland in 1914 the minimum for piece-workers was 6s. 1¾d.; at present it is 7s. 6½d.; and if this Bill becomes law it will raise it to 8s. 4¾d. These are the minima paid to the skilled or pivotal men in the main—actual face workers and coal getters.

I suggest that this Bill is not as formidable and revolutionary as some people would appear to think. Some people assume that it will mean a general advance in wages to everybody employed in or about a mine. As a matter of fact, there is only a percentage of pieceworkers who may require the minimum. It is seldom that they require the minimum wage for more than a week or two at a particular time. They are a varying number of men. If this Bill becomes law, it does not mean that every pieceworker will receive an advance in wages. The present daily earnings of the pieceworker in most of the mines is higher than the minimum. I believe that according to the White Paper the average daily earnings of everybody in and about a pit is higher than a good many of the minima which I have quoted. Surely if the piece-worker, who runs all the risks and dangers at the mine and has to produce the necessary article for bringing in revenue to the colliery, should be able to make wages that are reasonable according to the locality so that when, through circumstances over which he has no control, he is compelled to go on to the minimum wage, it ought to be of such an amount as will give him some confidence to believe that at the end of his week's work he will have the wherewithal to exist in the following week and to make provision for bad times. This is what the Bill means in its application to piece-workers.

When we deal with day workers we get a different proposition. In the Minimum Wage Act of 1912 provision was made for the day wage worker and his wage had to be fixed in accordance with the average daily earnings of that particular class in the locality. Generally speaking, the minimum fixed in the districts for labourers is the maximum that is paid to this class of man. These men cannot by any stroke of good luck or extra exertion increase their pay. Theirs is a stabilised daily wage and good or bad times and conditions do not make any difference to it. We want these men to be brought in so that the purchasing value of their wages to-day should be equal to the wage of 1914. I do not think that is asking too much from a House which is in such an amicable frame of mind to-day.

The Bill goes slightly further than the 1912 Act. During the debates on that Act a big fight was put up with regard to the surface workers, and for some unaccountable reason it has never been thoroughly explained why the surface workers, were left out of the minimum wage. We asked that these men, who are colliery workers subject to slack times and the other incidents that happen at a colliery, should be brought within the ambit of the principle of a minimum wage. It may be argued that in the majority of occupations where labouring work is essential no provision is made by law for a minimum, but there is through skill and other methods generally a fairly reasonable weekly wage for that class of man. The statistics in the Ministry of Labour "Gazette" show that in other industries, where what they call labour is required, the men have considerably higher wages than are paid to labourers at the pit top. In this Bill we are asking that their wages should be brought up to the purchasing value of the wages in 1914.

It is proper that I should state that in a good many mining districts, through the instrumentality of the miners' unions, we have been able to prevail upon the employers to increase the standard of life of the surface workers to a higher level than that of 1914. I want to make that candid confession. It means that if these men were brought within the ambit of this Bill a good many collieries would not need to make any advance and others would need to make only a small advance to bring wages up to the purchasing power of 1914; not that the purchasing power then enabled the men to live a proper life. This Bill will enable us to discuss the relative level of wages and to arrange that these men, who are an extremely law-abiding body of workers, should have a chance to get a little better wage than they are getting.

In my district our labourers have 5s. per day standard rate plus 22½ per cent., making it about 6s. 1½d. per shift; and we have had to have a subsistance wage applied to that, bringing it to 6s. 10d. The best time these men can make is five days one week and six days another, and with 11 days in a fortnight the large proportion of surface labourers are getting such low wages as nobody in this House would desire them to receive. That is not the lowest rate paid in any of the mining districts, and it is not the highest. In several districts wages are even lower; but knowing the wages which these men get in my own district, and knowing that they have to pay the same rates and rents, pay the same for their coal, for their gas and their electric light as other people have to pay, it is a marvel to me how they exist at all. Therefore, in asking that they should be included in this Bill we do not feel that we are asking for something which is unfair or unjust. Another thing for which we ask is that the cost of explosives shall not be deducted from the minimum wage. I am very glad to say that in my district the employers do not make such a deduction, and the man is paid the minimum free from any deductions except insurance payments and the like.

In Clause 2 we introduce a new feature by asking that an employer who fails to pay the minimum shall be subject to penalties. On the face of it that may appear to be rather drastic, but I would point out that the workers are subject to penalties, and that we do not ask for those penalties to be abolished under this Bill. Before a workman can get the minimum under the Act of 1912 he must comply with certain rules as set down by the district wages board. For instance, he must attend his work on so many days per week, he has got to obey instructions from the officials, he is not entitled to the minimum if he is aged or in any way inefficient. He must comply with all the rules and regulations, many of which are extraordinarily stringent, laid down by the chairmen of the various district boards. Much as we would like to see a good many of those rules done away with, we do not ask for that to be done in this Bill; and we say that as penalties are imposed on the men penalties should also be imposed on employers who fail to comply with the law.

In my district we carry out the Act of 1912 in its entirety. Our district wages board is elected annually, and it operates from time to time as occasion may arise. There have been one or two occasions when the board has given a decision in favour of the men and an obstinate employer would not pay and we have had to take him into the county court. The judge of the county court has laid it down that it was not for him to decide whether the findings of the board were right or wrong; all that he had to do was to decide that the board had come to its findings and that it was a civil debt, and he has awarded the decision to our men. There have been cases, too, when employers have refused to come to the board to have their cases dealt with, and we have had to take action through the Chancery Court to compel them to appear before the board or to stand by the decision arrived at. We want this penalty Clause inserted, not because we are desirous of penalising anybody but because we wish to make employers feel that there is some obligation upon them—

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted; and 40 Members being present—


I want to thank the hon. Member who asked for the count for two reasons. First of all it gave me time for a rest and renewed my energy, and, second, it has allowed me to see that many Members have stayed in the House. In Clause 3 we ask for another addition to the Act of 1912, and that is that Kent, which is a new district formed since the passing of the Act of 1912, should be included in this Bill, when, as I hope, it becomes an Act of Parliament. Having dealt as concisely as possible with the various changes foreshadowed in this Bill I want to say that if it gets a Second Reading and I have to pilot it through Committee hon. Members will find me as amenable as anybody can be in the matter of accepting reasonable Amendments. I am anxious to get something done for the men, who, I really think, deserve it. While I take great interest in the wages of all miners generally and would rejoice if there could be an advance of wages all round to them, I am not asking for that in this Bill; but I am anxious that those who have no real safeguards for their wages should have them in future, and that in the case of those who have, their position should be put exactly where it would be to accord with the purchasing power of money in 1914. I want again to emphasise that this Bill does not apply generally to wages, but applies only to the men who unfortunately and owing to circumstances over which they have no control, may not get the minimum wage.

I could have elaborated my speech considerably with details of the wages paid in various industries and in various mining areas of this country, but I do not think the House wants that this afternoon. I want to argue on the Bill alone and to submit that in putting it forward I am not asking for anything outrageous or extravagant. It is a moderate and modest Bill, introduced, I may say, by extraordinarily modest members. I ask the House to give it the same consideration that has been given to other Bills this morning. We have had a delightful time; it has been nearly as happy as being at a prayer meeting to be in the House of Commons this morning. We have been congratulating each other, and have been inclined to over-reach ourselves in our congratulations, which were nevertheless, deserved. I end my speech as I began it, by hoping that such congratulations, some day in the near future, will be showered upon me when this Bill passes its Third Reading.

1.37 p.m.


I beg to second the Motion.

It may appear suprising to people outside the mining industry and unacquainted with its conditions, that hundreds of thousands of workmen organised into powerful trade unions should find it necessary to seek the protection of this House and of the law in defence of their wages. The country has long experienced the necessity of coming to the assistance of small bodies of workmen and women, few in numbers and weak in organisation and powers of resistance against their employers. That type of man and woman has been employed in what we generally refer to as the sweated trades and industries, and it has long been recognised that such bodies of men and women need the protection of the law to prevent them being reduced to inhuman conditions of life.

It may therefore, as I have suggested, be surprising to people outside the mining industry that the workers and the notorious Miners' Federation, with its traditional fighting policy and long strikes during which men have retained unity for many months of continuous struggle against their employers require the protection of law, in view of the fact that in other large industries, where similar or even smaller bodies of men are organised without reference to the law, wage agreements are at least fairly satisfactory. The mining industry itself is the explanation of that, and the peculiar conditions which exist in and surround that industry. The deplorable conditions are not due to any particular kink in the nature of the employers or the men, as distinct from the men and women of other industries. The natural conditions of the industry themselves account for the difference.

It has often been emphasised during the history of the industry, and it is a fact which is well known by economists, that, during a period of trade depression, the industries which provide the raw materials of trade and manufacture suffer to a much greater degree than the manufacturing industries themselves. The former industries are not so easily developed, and are not so easily contracted as occasion may require with the different phases of the cycle of trade. Thus it is that when a period of depression begins and involves the mining industry, a tremendous competitive struggle is set in motion, the nature of which can hardly be conceived outside the mining industry. Coalowners' associations struggle for existence, and in that struggle will have recourse to every possible item of assistance upon which they can lay their hands. Naturally, they are impelled towards attack upon the standard of life of their working-men, and even of their working women, and the level of wages in the mining industry is thus depressed to an unusual degree. Even the wages agreements of the coalfields provide, in a measure, for a gradual decline in the standard of life, because of their provisions in regard to markets and prices.

Because of the long experience gained not merely by our generation of mine-workers, because the experience goes back into the past and to the very beginning of the mining industry in this country under capitalist conditions, a desire has been created in the mind of the coalminer for assistance from outside. His experience has impelled him to organise in order to withstand those conditions, and to use his political power to gain the protection of law for his standard of life. In 1912, something was achieved in this direction, but beneficial though the Act was which was passed in that year—no one but the miner can appreciate how beneficial it has been—it brought with it an understanding of a considerable number of weaknesses which were left untouched, and a desire for further support. That is why this Bill, the terms of which have been so clearly explained by my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Cape) has been introduced.

The next point is in regard to wages conditions. The level of the standard of life within the mining industry is wholly indefensible at the present time by any standard of comparison that one cares to apply. No industry can possibly be held up as providing any measure of justification for permitting the existing standard in the mining industry to continue. The wages system of the mining industry is so far indefensible that, in every one of the 13 districts into which the industry is divided, the owners have found it necessary to add to the agreed wage rates an allowance to prevent the workers from starving. That is not a wage, but an allowance granted by the owners in order to aid wages. Is it possible to conceive of such a thing in say, the railway industry, or the iron and steel industry? What would the House think of the employers and the representatives of the workmen in any other industry coming together and agreeing to a wage rate, and then, immediately after signing that wage rate, which was to operate for one, two or three years, coming together again to discuss how much that wage agreement is short of what is necessary to enable the men to live? That is the spectacle presented by the mining industry to-day in every one of the 13 districts. I and a number of my colleagues have been associated in making wage agreements since the War period, and, immediately we appended our signatures to a wage agreement, we found it was necessary to discuss with the same owners in the same room how much allowance was necessary on top of the wages which had just been agreed to.

Again, take the case of the craftsmen. The mining industry calls for a number of crafts—smiths, fitters, carpenters and so forth; but in no industry outside the mining industry is a craftsman in any one of these callings paid at such a low rate as in the mining industry. The mining craftsman, whether he be smith, fitter, electrician, carpenter, or whatever he is, is regarded by his fellows in other industries as a blackleg, working for shillings per day less than is being paid in other industries. These matters are to some extent intermixed with the mining industry itself, and, therefore, we are compelled to have regard to these conditions. Some speakers in the House this morning have referred to their traditional feeling of sympathy for the miner when a disaster of some kind occurs. What a hero this miner is! Moreover, everybody acknowledges that the work of the miner requires an exceptional expenditure of energy, apart from its danger. No class of industrial worker is called upon to expend energy to the same degree as the miner.

I dare say that I and some of my colleagues from South Wales could claim credit for having been skilled miners, or, at least, capable of doing as much as the average skilled miner, with all that that means. A skilled miner is as skilful in his calling as any man in any industry or calling in this country, and he works at a degree of intensity beyond that of any other calling; but he is paid to-day at a lower rate per hour than the unskilled labourer in any other industry. The miner, the most skilful man in the world, working at an exceptional degree of intensity and in dangerous circumstances unequalled in any other calling, is called upon to work for 8s. 3d. per day in South Wales at the present time. That is the minimum wage for eight hours in a pit—1s. an hour for facing all the horrors and dangers and arduous work of the mine. Tremendous enthusiasm has been expressed in the House this afternoon regarding the injustices imposed upon the working classes of this country, and we ask the House now to express its sympathy with us in moving to alleviate the conditions of the miners by means of a Bill to provide that no body of coalowners, however desirous they may be of saving their particular pits, shall not, in any set of economic circumstances or stress of economic depression, allow the standard of life to be reduced below a certain limit. It is in order to defend even the present level against further reduction that we ask the House to give a Second Reading to this Bill.

1.52 p.m.

The SECRETARY for MINES (Mr. Ernest Brown)

There is no Member in any quarter of the House to whose modest request the House would, on personal grounds, more readily give assent than the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Cape). I regret, therefore, that I have to break that harmony by asking the House to consider some implications, not of my hon. Friend's speech or of the speech of the lion. Member for East Rhondda (Mr. Mainwaring), but of the Bill which is under discussion. I will not detain the House by talking about sympathy for the miner or discussing it except to say that the whole House would be only too glad if the conditions in the industry permitted of an increase in the wage of the miner. My task is to address my mind to the particular Bill which is now before us, and I want first of all to remind the House that the Bill is an interesting departure from recent policy as expressed in previous Bills of hon. Members opposite—the Bills of 1925 and of 1930. To-day I do not want to be in any sense polemical, but merely to call the attention of the House to the fact that this Bill is on an entirely different basis from the Bills of 1925 and 1930. Indeed, I can imagine that, if a Member of another party had brought in this Bill, the late Mr. A. J. Cook would have had some very scathing things to say about the fodder basis. I have heard some very eloquent speeches on that subject. I only put that point to show that it does not follow that, because a particular Bill is designed to do certain things on behalf of the miners, it is necessarily the best way of doing those things or will achieve what is desired, not only by hon. Members opposite, but by all who know the difficulties of the industry and the complications of the wage position.

May I remind hon. Members of the original idea of the minimum wage? As the House will remember, the demand for an individual minimum wage for all underground workers in the British coalfield may be said to have originated in the inability of coalface piece-workers to secure a settlement of what was familiarly known for many years as the abnormal places question. It was in consequence of that original demand, and the campaign that followed it, that the original Bill of 1912 was introduced, and, therefore, when we are asked to consider a Bill which purports to amend the Act of 1912, we have to ask ourselves whether the Bill does that or whether it does something different. As the House knows, there is no more complicated or difficult set of arrangements than the wages issue in the mining districts. A Member in any part of the House coming from Cumberland would be very difficult in discussing the details of arrangements for miners in Yorkshire, and a miner in Yorkshire, while he may talk in general terms about arrangements in South Wales, would want a very close discussion with a worker in South Wales before he committed himself to details of working in South Wales. It is difficult to discuss this problem, which differs from district to district, in terms of a Bill which applies to the whole country. That is one of the difficulties in drafting a Bill of this kind and making a satisfactory arrangement in the complicated conditions of the industry.


It seems to me it is a simple problem. All that is asked for is that we shall have a relative position compared with what it was in each district in 1914.


It does not follow that the Bill will do that or that it makes it clear. More than that, it is sometimes the things that are most simple to state in general terms which are themselves, in a complicated set of circumstances, the hardest to apply in legal terms. That is why many people who have a simple idea find, when they come to draft a Bill, that it is one thing to have a simple idea but it may mean a whole series of complicated legal changes to apply that simple idea to a complicated system of this sort. I only say that by way of preliminary caution.

May I say a word or two about the Bill itself, having analysed it and given it the best attention that I can. The difficulty of finding out what it really means is illustrated by a set of tables which I will not quote. They are already out of date, for the percentage of the cost of living in February, when the hon. Member first moved the Bill, was 43. The average for 1933 was 39£ and at the moment it is 40. That simple fact alone, the change from February to April, will, I think, convince hon. Members that this thing is not as simple as it would appear from their speeches or from the surface of the Bill. May I go a little further. Some of those who have given their attention to the Bill would say it is not an amending Bill of the Act of 1912 at all, but rather one to substitute an entirely different form of wage machinery. What the House is asked to do is not to follow out the arrangements under the Act of 1912, for that Act provided machinery in each district for settling miners' wages. This Bill would enact that Parliament itself, which has always held itself to be an unsuitable instrument for the purpose, shall in effect fix actual minimum wage rates all over the country without any reference to the earning power of the pits in any district at any time. That is a fundamental departure from the Act of 1912 and from the principles on which that Act was based. The 1912 Act, setting up district boards, specifically directed that those boards, in fixing minimum rates in each district, should have regard to the average daily rate of wages paid to the workmen of the class for which the minimum rate was to be settled. In other words, the Act was designed to secure that, even if working in unfavourable conditions, a miner should still receive a wage which was reasonable in comparison with other workmen in the same district. That was the basis.

What hon. Members have produced is not a solution of the problem how to amend the 1912 Act but rather a Bill which may be useful as a demonstration and as a basis of discussion. In my judgment they have not produced a Bill to amend the 1912 Act but something entirely different. It bears no necessary connection with the prospective earnings in the industry and, in the judgment of the Government, it is useless as a practical wage instrument for this great and complicated industry. Parliament has already provided machinery for the arrangement of wage rates. Parliament could by legal enactment, although up to the present it has always refused to do so, fix wage rates. Parliament, in the present structure of society and industry, cannot provide wages. What we want if we are to amend the 1912 Act is not something on paper, something which will meet the conditions and provide the wages. All those concerned in the industry realise this, as is shown by the fact that at present the legislative machinery has almost entirely been superseded, as the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Cape) pointed out when giving that table of figures for piece workers, by agreements in the districts. Arrangements of that kind do not rest, except as a basis, upon the Act but upon agreements. When the industry is profitable, the miners share in the prosperity. I need not talk in general terms about the policy of the Government, which is to help to realise conditions in which there will be more money in the industry through which these agreements may work out in that way. This is, I believe, the right way to approach the miners' wages problem.

This is described as a Bill to amend the Coal Mines Minimum Wage Act, 1912. Let the House fairly and with an open mind examine the machinery in the light of that description. Clause 1 (2) provides for the arbitrary addition of the extra cost of living percentage—which in February was 43 per cent. which, as I have told the House, for the whole of 1933 was 39½ and which at the moment is 40—to the statutory minimum wage rates determined under the machinery of the Act of 1912 for various classes of underground workers. There are three possible alternatives in reading the text of this Clause. It may be read that the intention of the authors of the Bill is to try to secure an increase of the percentage, whatever it may be, in the actual earnings per shift of classes of workers compared with such earnings in 1914. It may, on the other hand, be read as an attempt to secure a rise in the minimum percentage ruling in the district to the equivalent of the cost of living percentage on standard wages. I gather from the hon. Member for East Rhondda that that is what he had in mind. I shall certainly read his speech with the greatest care, and I hope the House will, and compare it with the very different speech of the hon. Member for Workington.

I am not quite sure what the Bill says. It has three possible interpretations. I have honestly addressed my mind to what it means, and I am asking hon. Members to address their minds to what it means. The House is asked, not to pass a vote of sympathy with the miners, but to amend the Act of 1912, and we want to know what we are doing before we give the Bill a Second Reading. My opinion is that the Bill means what the hon. Member for Workington seemed to think it meant, but the words themselves contain all three constructions. It may mean that it attempts to secure a percentage addition to the statutory minimum rates in force in July, 1914. To give effect to that would involve endless difficulties and complications, especially when it is realised that there is a second point. The second point is this. There is an entirely new provision in the Bill which is not in the Act of 1912 or any succeeding Act. It is to bring surface workers within the scope of the law, and no mining Member of this House in any party could get up in, his place in this House or on any platform in the country and rebut the charge which I now make. To attempt to bring them in would be to set to all those concerned a problem of the most extraordinary difficulty and complexity. If hon. Members differ—and I am trying to bring my mind and theirs to the fact—it will be up to them in succeeding speeches to show us how simple the thing is as against the complexity.

Let us consider the complexities. The statutory minimum wages under the 1912 Act were determined by the various independent chairmen in the district acting independently of each other. This, of course, was not necessary. It was only necessary when both sides did not agree. In practice what happened was that the independent chairman in the districts, acting independently of each other, interpreted the provisions of that Act rather differently. Hon. Members will be wise to take that in view. They have now a form of words which I have told them, in my judgment, it is possible to interpret in at least three different ways. What happened? There was great uncertainty as to the meaning of the provisions of the Act with regard to the following words: Regard shall be had to the average daily rate of wages paid to the workmen of the class for which the minimum rate was to be settled. Most of the chairmen took the view that these words meant that the new minimum rates were not to exceed existing average rates. In South Wales on the other hand the late Lord St. Aldwyn interpreted the phrase a good deal more generously. The result is that the protection of this Bill was applied to the industry with variations under the Acts of 1908 and 1912, and some of these variations undoubtedly caused a sense of grievance in the lower-paid districts, and to add a uniform percentage to all the statute minimum wage rates cannot but tend to accentuate the original inequalities. I do not believe that any Member of the House would want to do that. Further, we come back to the point about the surface workers. The House and all Members will have to remember that in working those Acts there is no statutory minimum wage in existence for surface workers. Therefore, before you could add the cost of living percentage, it would be necessary for all the minimum wage boards to meet, and they would have to fix statutory minima for those workers according to the provisions of the Act of 1912. The two sides in the districts would probably disagree again and probably those independent chairmen in the district would once more have to fix the rates. The hon. Member opposite knows that it is not easy for any Member of the House, however experienced, to make a statement on miners' wages, and I am not prepared to make any statement which is not literally accurate in conjunction with the facts.


Our point is that it is not so complicated as the hon. Member is trying to make out.


I am pointing out the difficulties. The independent chairmen would have to do the fixing. Let hon. Members opposite put themselves in the position of an independent chairman of that kind. They would have to fix the rates in accordance with the principles laid down in the original Act. Each independent chairman in 1934 or 1935 or whenever the Bill became an Act would have to fix the pre-war rate. That is to say a rate which he would have fixed if he had been in the chair and had been dealing with the surface workers in 1914.


No, no, it is wrong.


It is useless for the hon. Member to say "No." It shows that he has not applied his mind to the structure of the Bill.


We on this side of the House thoroughly object to this kind of misconstruction of the Bill. We have no such intention at any time, and it is no use the Secretary for Mines opposing the Bill on those lines.


There is difficulty between the two sides, and I repeat what I have said, that the hon. Member does not understand the structure of his own Bill. It only shows how difficult it is to put what is in hon. Members' minds into the structure of an Act of Parliament. I assert that the effect would be that the independent chairman would have to fix rates for the surface workers who are not included under the Act if its structure is maintained by the method which hon. Members want. This would be a problem which they would have to consider under the principles of the Act of 1912. They would have to put this Act into operation as they would have done had they been in charge in 1912, and then would have to fix in every district the rate for those workers as the conditions of 1914 laid down. The hon. Member says "No, no" in that emphatic way. He knows that I can be just as emphatic and that if he says "No, no, no," three times I can say "Yes" six times. That will not solve it, but the words in the Bill would solve it. It will be found that hon. Members, although they have made an earnest attempt to approach this problem from a different angle, have not themselves succeeded in doing what they thought they had done.

There is another point I wish to make. There are also a certain number of classes of workers below ground from whom there were no minimum wages fixed in 1914. I would point out to the hon. Member for Workington—I am trying to be helpful to him—that if he reconsiders the Bill at any time he will find that there is no provision in it to deal with hours. That again raises another set of complexities. It is a very different problem to decide for these classes of workers for whom there were no minimum wages fixed in 1914 what the position is to be in terms of 1914. It seems clear already from the two speeches delivered from the opposite side of the House and from the discussion as far as it has gone that the present intention is not really to amend the 1912 Act at all, but to replace it by a new statutory minimum wage altogether on lines somthing like the agreements of 1921 and 1924. It would have given me very great pleasure to have come down to the House and said "Yes" to the hon. Member for Workington, but the House will see from my analysis of this apparently simple but nevertheless very complex Bill that I cannot ask it to give the Bill a Second Reading.

2.13 p.m.


I am sure that anybody on this side of the House who has—[Interruption]. The hon. Member on the front Bench opposite a moment ago was complaining that the Minister for Mines was, in his view, misrepresenting the Bill. Apparently he is now unwilling to hear what we have to say against this Bill. If I may begin again, anybody on this side of the House with an industrial experience such as I have must find himself in a bit of a difficulty in opposing a Measure of this kind, because, as the Minister said, we have a very full, real and genuine sympathy for the conditions in the mining industry. When I came down from the Highlands of Scotland at a very early age into the mining district of Lanarkshire and saw the conditions in which miners were living there and realised the conditions under which they were working, I could not help being filled with sympathy and a real desire to do what was possible to secure the betterment of the mining community. I can honestly say on my own behalf that the aspirations and inclinations which impressed me in those early days still live. In the Midlands of England I come in contact with the miners and realise the conditions under which they work, and there is no class of the community for whom I have more sympathy than those who work underground. The difficulty is, that in trying to secure their well-being we have to discover if we can, what is the best means of approach, and the solid foundations on which their prosperity can be built up.

My difficulty in regard to this Bill is that I do not think the issue has been approached in the right way. May I examine the question for a moment on the ground of general principles? I do not see how you can possibly divorce the conditions in the mining industry from the whole general structure of industry, and consider that they are not subject to all the ordinary economic circumstances which apply in ordinary producing trades. My hon. Friends opposite during the whole of their political career have been dominated by a political philosophy which is based on two main grounds. The first is that you have to solve the problem of production, and after that you have to deal effectually, and in the interest of the masses, with the problem of distribution. The mining community to-day are suffering just the same as in the engineering, iron and steel, cotton, woollen and all the other basic trades of this country. They are suffering from the fact that the problem of production has been solved in an entirely effective way, but we have not yet discovered the best means by which to tackle the problem of distribution. I think that anyone who knows the economic circumstances of the world will agree that that almost goes without saying. I do not care whether it is in the mining of metals, or in the refining of them, in manufacturing, in the growing of the things we eat, in the production of wool or in the mining of coal, we have during the last 150 years been cutting corners, saving labour here, there and everywhere, and we have got to the piont where the production of goods has become a real problem, we have done it so effectively.

I do not see how the mining community can escape from all the limitations and inhibitions bound up in that general discovery and general result. We have got down to the real issue of getting rid of our goods. [An HON. MEMBER: "Must the miners on a non-subsistence wage wait until the problem of distribution has been solved?"] Nobody appreciates the fact more than I do that the mining community are giving services to the State of inestimable value, and that their return and standard of well-being are not anything like what all of us want to see; but the problem to which I am directing myself is how are we to find a means by which the product of their labour can be turned into a form which they can consume. I am not dealing with something which is not material. I am concerned in the Black Country with iron-workers and workers of that kind, but we have the same problem as the miners. There are plenty of my constituents who would like a new suit of clothes, half a dozen shirts from Lancashire or a couple of pair of boots from Northampton, but it is no use my constituents offering to those people a cwt. of galvanized wire or galvanized sheets. They cannot do anything with those commodities. It is only when we send the galvanized sheets to Australia and they find a resting place on a bushranger's shanty, and are paid for by wool, mutton or something of that kind, that the exchange can be made, and my constituents can get a return in consumable wealth. The same thing applies in the mining industry. The problem today is not one of producing coal. The problem is to sell coal for something which has an exchangeable value which the miners want in their daily life. If by means of legislation of this character you make it more difficult for the mining industry to get rid of their products, the inevitable result must be that their condition is going to be worse in the result even that it is now.


A moment or two ago the hon. Member referred to bushrangers' huts. I would point out that they do not have them now.


My hon. Friend, of course, is noted for his facetiousness, and I appreciate the interjection from the point of view of his humour; but whether it is relevant to a serious discussion or not I am not so sure.

I have, as I hope, made the point that welfare can only come back to the miners when they have been able to dispose of their product and get consumable goods in exchange. I will now address myself to another point. Why do the mining community as the one industrial community in this country desire to put on to the shoulders of my hon. Friend and the Government the responsibility of determining the wages in their industry? As far as I know, the principle embodied in this Bill is only represented in one other branch of industry in this country, and that is the branch of industry at present covered by trade boards. As between the workers covered by trade boards and those represented by the Miners' Federation, there is a whole world of difference. The trade boards were designed to protect those who have no organisation, and who, because they had no organisation through their trade unions, were being exploited by employers and had wage and other conditions which could not be justified in a well-regulated community. The Government set up those boards, brought in independent assessors to examine the whole circumstances in the trade, the possibility of distribution of the goods and prices, and on that basis fixed a minimum wage for the workers concerned. Surely that does not apply in the mining industry? There is no industry, perhaps, in this country so well organised on both sides as the mining industry. The fact that my hon. Friends opposite are complaining to-day—quite rightly, because I am not disagreeing from that point of view—of the results which the men are getting from their labours, is not due to the fact that the machinery of negotiation and the will to improve the conditions do not exist, but it is due to the economic limits placed upon the industry by world conditions; and, therefore, they are asking the Government to take a step which is unprecedented, and, in my view, unnecessary.

Surely the people who can arrive at an economic wage in an industry are those engaged in the industry. That proposition can only fall to the ground on one count, namely, that one side is not strong enough to force its rightful view on the other. I do not agree that in the mining industry that is the case at all, because I think, that the Miners' Federation are so strong, they have such wide support among those whom they specifically represent, and so wide a moral support among the general community, that I am convinced that if the industry itself, on strictly economic grounds, could stand a higher wage, public opinion would be on their side, and the result would come about almost automatically. I suggest that the real way to tackle this question is not through a private Member's Bill on a Friday afternoon, driving the House of Commons into the acceptance of a minimum wage. Surely the right way of tackling the job is to pursue the method in operation for 150 years, and for which no alternative appears to exist even now to discover by what way and means we can find a market for our goods at a price which will give a living wage to those engaged in it.

If I may make one small constructive suggestion for a solution of this question it would be that all the pressure that can be exerted by hon. Members who represent the mining industry and other hon. Members who are interested should be directed to the Board of Trade, to ensure that all possible steps should be taken by this country to induce other countries to take more of our commodities, including coal. We might then get such a big market at such reasonable prices that the just aspirations of our producers would be fully met, but I am convinced that, through a Bill of this kind, to attempt by legislation, by force majeure, to inflict upon an industry wage or other conditions which that industry cannot stand on a strict economic basis, will only defeat the object we have in view and lead to much more serious, difficult and dangerous consequences in the future.

2.16 p.m.


I am afraid that the genesis of this Bill is a desire for a national wage agreement. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Not in a Friday afternoon Bill. The hon. Member who moved the Second Reading asked for our sympathy for the miners—we all give that, especially those who know the industry—but he tried to convey to the House that everybody concerned works underground. The Bill, as I read it, refers to surface, workers as well as underground workers. Those who are engaged in the industry know that the surface worker to a large extent does the work which any ordinary labourer does in any ordinary trade, and I suggest to by hon. Friends that they are embarking on rather dangerous ground when they are putting into a mining Bill a Clause which seeks to give special conditions to an ordinary labourer because he happens to be working in or about a colliery. Our industry wants all the sympathy that it can get. It is only just beginning to get real recognition for a good many things, but if we ask that because men happen to be employed in or about a colliery they should have a minimum wage which is not comparable with the rate for work that a great many other people are doing of a similar nature, then we are going to come up against very serious difficulties.

I think this question is better treated from the point of view of payment according to the nature of the work done, which is very much what we are doing to-day in most of our individual pits. Hon. Members who are in the mining industry know perfectly well that we have agreements made almost week by week or month by month for special work which is done, and these agreements bear a definite relation to the value of the work from the point of view of the mine and from the point of view of the industry. Today, however, we are asked to establish, on a Friday afternoon, the principle that there ought to be a minimum wage fixed for men employed in or about a colliery, irrespective of the nature of the work they are doing. I take the Bill as I find it. If my hon. Friends would only regard these matters from the point of view of what they are going to pass into law—we must assume that they intend to pass into law what they put down in their own Bill—I think it would lead to clarity.

Some of my friends may not agree with me, but I should like to see all the men in a pit paid according to the work they do and according to the skill and the danger with which they operate. I would go one step further and say that if in any individual pit the men, working with their employers, were able to make a better profit than a neighbouring pit, I would be willing to see them having some share in those profits. That is why I so strongly object to this principle of a dead minimum wage which puts all down to one level and never gives the best man a chance of getting on.

2.20 p.m.


I offer no apology for intervening in this debate. A matter of this nature, irrespective of what may be thought by hon. Members opposite, affects a good many others besides those who represent mining divisions. My hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. A. Ramsay) said that he had sympathy with those who worked in mines. I want to endorse that statement and to say, further, that anyone who takes any interest in industrial conditions and has had any contact at all with those who are working in the mining areas must at all times have a genuine desire to do something to help those whose work is so precarious, and who have suffered more than anybody else in the economic conditions of the time. The desire to help those in the mining industry is not confined to any one class of people, and I yield to none in the desire to help in bringing about a better state of things for those who are engaged in this great national basic industry.

I should like to ask a few questions with regard to the Bill. When one sees a Bill of this nature, which is called an attempt to better the conditions of the miners, one is very tempted to accept the provisions of the Bill and give it support. But I understand that the district boards set up by the Act of 1912 are now producing more friendly relationships in the industry than has been shown in any other trade in the country. If that be so, if there is that harmony between those representing the employers and those working in the industry, is there any need for the House to adopt the suggestion of Clause 1 and to set up for the mining industry what is attempted in no other industry, namely, a minimum wage? Wherever those boards are working in every coal-mining area, there is first-class co-operation between the employers and the employed. [An HON. MEMBER: "Does that apply in South Wales?"]It has been suggested that we ought to give a vote of sympathy for the miners. What we want is a vote of confidence in the miners and in the trade. I cannot conceive any part of this Bill becoming operative and selling an additional piece of coal.

The prosperity of those engaged in any industry must depend upon the industry, and this House would, rightly, take any steps to see that no member of an industry is denied a fair share of an industry which Parliament so jealously supervises; but this Bill, which seeks not to amend, but to override, the machinery of the Minimum Wage Act, 1912, and set up in place of that well-established and well-functioning tribunal, the minimum wage laid down by sub-section (2) of this Bill, will not operate in any way to help the wages of those engage in the coalmining industry. Would not an arrangement of this nature, suddenly put on the industry without any regard at all to its finances, be a retrograde step in the interests of miners themselves?

There is something more about this Bill. Why is it necessary to legislate for those working in or about a mine in a manner different to those doing similar work in some other industry? The Act of 1912 which applies to people who work underground in a coal mine has no reference at all to those working on the surface, but Clause 1 of the Bill provides that the 1912 Act shall apply to every worker whether underground or on the surface. A new employment altogether is brought in. Is there any reason at all why, on a Friday afternoon and by a private Member's Bill, this House should legislate to provide a special minimum wage, which is to be fixed in a manner never employed before, for persons not subject to the express difficulties and dangers which the House recognises exist in the coal mining industry? If real reorganisation is wanted it is the reorganisation which has been attempted during the last two years, to encourage-the sale of coal from this country, to encourage financial stability in the coal mining industry, which wall enable a better rate of wages to be fixed and maintained by district boards.

We have had various trade agreements with other countries and other attempts by the Government which have had as their object the development of the coal industry, the selling of coal in places where it was not previously sold. So long as trade can be promoted and developed so long will you promote an improvement in the conditions of labour under which those engaged in the industry work. We do not see any reason at all for the Bill because there is nothing in it which will help the miner in his work. We are ready to do the utmost we can, to give any help we can, to bring about better trade in the industry, which alone will help the wages of the miners, but there is no reason for interfering in this manner without bringing any benefit to the coal miners themselves.

2.39 p.m.


When I interrupted the hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. A. Ramsay) I did not do so in any lighthearted way but because I realised that occasionally one may say a word which one does not intend, just as the hon. Member did when he was referring to the galvanised iron sheets going to Australia. Anything which will cause heartburning and trouble in our Dominions we should try to avoid. I thought the hon. Member had made a mistake and I wanted to give him a chance to correct it. I did not want to interrupt the flow of his most agreeable and interesting speech. With a great deal of what he said I am in full sympathy. In all parts of Great Britain it is realised that the great coal industry is one which should be dealt with most sympathetically.


There are no coal mines in your constituency.


I am sure the hon. Member will get a better holiday if he comes to Torquay. But this is not a Bill to advertise Torquay, it is a Bill to do something for miners, and if I thought it would really do something to help the mining industry I should support it. When we are considering legislation the sole question is whether it will help the trade of the country. Looking at the Bill I am rather afraid that it has been put down in a somewhat slipshod way, I say that with all respect, and that it is really what I would call front window advertising. It is not practical legislation. I think it is a pity that it should be brought in in this way. Let me deal with some of the points in the Bill. The first Clause says that the Bill is to: apply to every worker employed, whether underground or on the surface, in or about a mine to which that Act applies. There is a note explaining that it is to apply to workers in coal, ironstone, and in shale and clay mines. That brings it down to the West country where we have clay mines. If there was anything in the Bill which I thought would help these mines I would do all I could to advance its progress. But a most extraordinary position arises, because for the settling of wages you have to go back to an entirely imaginary position in 1914. I say "imaginary" because in 1914 there must have been many places from which you now obtain coal and clay which were not opened at that time, they are new districts, and surely it will be impossible to come to any sort of conclusion as to what the rate of wages should be. As I listened to the excellent and skilful exposition of the Secretary for Mines fresh doubts arose in my mind.


He has never supported the miners since he has been at the Ministry of Mines.


If the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) had done as much in the whole of his life for the miners as the Secretary for Mines has done during the last 18 months he would be a very proud man.


What has he done?


He has done a very great deal in getting trade back and in re-organising the industry. That is not in the Bill, and I am not going to get out of order in replying to the hon. Member. I do not want to enter into any party controversy. But the point with regard to surface workers is hopelessly impossible. Later in the Clause you come to the provision with regard to the cost of living. Most of us will sympathise with the idea. Certain classes of labour in this country have their wages balanced by the cost of living, a sound policy in a way, but, on the other hand, we have to remember, however much we may like these things, that in all trades and industries which are producing you can only pay the wages which the industry can afford. It is no good paying miners wages of such a character that the pit in which they are engaged, or the clay works in which they work, will have to pay more in wages than is obtained for the article they produce. You close the pit, and the men are thrown out of work.

There is another point by which I am rather disturbed. It is entirely a legal point and I should like to have some legal opinion upon it. Clause 2, Subsection (2), says: On the conviction of an employer for failing to pay wages in accordance with the foregoing section to a person employed, the court may by the conviction adjudge the employer convicted to pay, in addition to any fine, such sum as appears to the court to be due to the person employed on account of wages. There, apparently, the Bill lays down that the fines of the court are to come before wages. That is not right. The Sub-section goes on to say that: the power to order the payment of wages under this provision shall not be in derogation of any right of the person employed to recover wages by any other proceedings. I imagine that that means that the miner can go out of court and obtain his wages by law. But surely it would be better to make wages the first charge rather than fines on the employer. It is a technical point, and to a layman reading the Bill for the first time the proposal seems chaotic. I have no doubt that some of the miners' representatives present will get up and try to explain it. If they are afraid to get up and explain the awkward points of the Bill that means that they are ashamed of the Bill, in which case they had better vote against it and get it out of the way by the quickest possible method. Then why should Clause 3 be brought in to deal with the new district of Kent. Have the promoters of the Bill received a deputation and ascertained whether the Kent miners would like the Bill or are the Kent miners just being shoved into the Bill?


The Kent miners are unanimously behind the Bill.


That being so, there is some justification for inserting this Clause, but it is no reason for voting for the Bill. When the hon. Member says it in that way he seems rather to infer that perhaps the Kent miners are the only miners in favour of the Bill and that the Bill is really this Clause and no other Clause.


The whole of the miners of Great Britain are behind the Bill.


Now we are getting along; we are getting an explanation of the Bill which we have not had before. The miners, we are told, are solid for the Bill, to the last man I suppose. Have they all seen it, or read it, or understood it, and do they all want it, seeing that on the main provisions of the Bill there are three distinct opinions expressed and no one can decide which of the three is right. It really is ridiculous on a Bill of this kind for anyone to get up and say that the miners want it. The Bill is of no practical value.


The hon. Member is finding so many difficulties with the Bill that he had better give it up.


The hon. Member tells me that the Bill is so complicated that I should give it up. I am not going to be dictated to or deterred in that way. The Bill is not going to bring about the sale of a single extra ton of coal. The man who can increase the sale of coal is the man who does most for the miners at the present time. The doubling of the coal output and the sale of it at a reasonable price will do more for the miners than hundreds of Bills of this kind. One thing is certain, and that is that the Bill is likely to bring trouble into the industry. It will not give the miners anything but it will bring the industry back to confusion. Unless some supporter of the Bill can give a better reason for the Bill than any we have yet heard, I ask the House to consider whether, after the advice of the Secretary for Mines, we should not be much better advised to reject the Bill.

2.52 p.m.


On the last occasion when this Bill was before the House it came on rather late on the Friday afternoon and my speech was interrupted by the fact that you, Mr. Speaker, rose to call us to Order because we had reached the hour of Four o'clock. Those in my constituency who disapproved of my action naturally subjected me to some attack. I am, therefore, all the more glad to speak to-day in order to justify rather more fully than I could on that occasion my reasons for opposing this particular class of legislation. I remember very well indeed the strike of 1912, a strike which was based on the demand for a minimum wage. It led the Liberal Government of that day to pass the Minimum Wage Act. I remember the conflict between the Liberal Government and the Labour party on the question whether there should be incorporated in the Act of 1912 a provision that the minimum wage should be 30s. for all districts with, I think, a further provision that there should be a higher minimum in certain districts if circumstances seemed to warrant it. Mr. Asquith, then Prime Minister, resisted very strongly, and my hon. Friend who is now in charge of the Liberal party in the House will remember—I think he was then a Whip—the arguments which were presented by Mr. Asquith against the proposal to fix a statutory minimum wage. I think that on that occasion the hon. Member was one of the numerous Members of the Liberal party who voted against the principle contained in the Bill now before the House. I hope that later on we shall have some contribution to the Debate from him, because he will speak with a peculiar knowledge not enjoyed by anyone sitting on the Government front bench at the moment.

I believe that in the long run there is more to be said against minimum wage legislation than in favour of it. There is always a grave danger of the minimum wage becoming a maximum. None know better than hon. Members opposite who represent mining constituences that the Act of 1912 has largely fallen into desuetude. [HON. MEMBERS: "No".] I have not the detailed knowledge on these matters which hon. Members opposite possess but I think it is true to say that to a material extent to-day what are called subsistence wages are wages arrived at by agreement and not under the provisions of the Act. In that sense I am accurate in saying that the Act has largely fallen into desuetude. On the other hand, it may be claimed by hon. Members that it is the Act which has made it easier for them to negotiate subsistence wages, but, in the main, the miner to-day is not governed as to wages by the Act but by district agreements with regard to subsistence wages.


The majority of miners to-day are governed by the Minimum Wage Act. A number are governed by subsistence wage agreements.


It is difficult to say statistically whether the majority are or are not under the Act. At any rate it is true that a large proportion are on the negotiated subsistence basis in cases where by any chance, such as working in a bad place, their piece-work earnings fall to-what is known as the subsistence level.


It does not affect the piece-worker at all. The subsistence wage applies to the low paid workers on day wages.


Then the piece-worker is still protected under the provisions of the Act and so far as they are concerned it is still operative, but as regards the day worker, he is protected by the principle of the subsistence wage which is a negotiated level and has nothing to do with the Acts. If I slightly misstated the position at first I apologise, but obviously it is not easy for one unconnected with the industry to be invariably right on these details. Nevertheless, it is true that the Act does not operate to-day to anything like the extent to which it operated just after it was passed.


In some places it operates more to-day than it did just after it was passed.


But as regards the country generally it is not operative to the same extent as it was then—

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being present


When attention was drawn to the fact that we had not a quorum we were favoured with the presence of the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker), which we had not up to then enjoyed. I hope he is not going to leave again just yet, because he has suggested that I have been mainly responsible for counting out the House on other occasions. That allegation is without foundation. On two occasions during the present Session I have been speaking when a count was called. That may be a reflection on my oratory but not on my moral qualities as regards seeking to count out the House. I was not aware in the present instance that my speech was going to be interrupted in that manner. I was dealing with the extent to which the Act of 1912 has fallen into desuetude. Hon. Members contend that it still operates to a material extent. I would remind them of the hopes which were excited in March, 1912, when the great dispute of that year was brought to an end by that Act. The hopes then excited have proved to be vain. The Act did not bring peace to the industry. During the period of two years between 1912 and 1914 when the course of events was disturbed by the War there were more industrial disputes in the coal mining industry—


Can the hon. Member say where those disputes were, what they were about, and how many there were?


I am willing to give the hon. Member the information if he will allow me the time, but I cannot carry in my head precise details of every coalmining dispute between 1912 and 1914. The hon. Member will find on a shelf adjoining the Tea Room the bound volumes of the "Ministry of Labour Gazette" and at the end of the monthly parts he will find particulars of every important coalmining dispute during the period under consideration. He will have an opportunity before four o'clock of replying to my statement that during the two years after the passage of the Act there were more disputes in the industry than during the two years before its passage. I well recollect it because in the summer of 1914 I wrote an article on the subject and I extracted the information at the time. Had I known that this Bill was coming up this afternoon I should have prepared myself to give chapter and verse for the general statement which I have made and as to the truth of which I have not the slightest doubt.

I suggest, therefore, that the Act of 1912 did not bring peace to the industry, and this Bill is a proposal to extend that Act in a particular direction. I was strongly opposed to the Act of 1012. I was not then in Parliament, but I was playing some part in politics, and I did all I could, as an outsider who had nothing to do with the industry, to oppose the Bill because I objected to it in principle. The Liberal Government as a solution of the immediate dispute conceded what the miners' organisation wanted. They introduced the Measure but refused the demand that a defined minimum wage should be incorporated in it. That was one of the few occasions when there was a split in pre-war days between the Liberal Government and their allies of the Socialist party. That was one of the occasions when there was a dispute, and Mr. Asquith resisted their demands.

The proposal in this Bill is in fact to put defined figures into an Act of Parliament, because the first thing we have to do is to ascertain those minimum rates which were in operation, in fact, in July, 1912—and they are definite, ascertainable figures—and to add to them a certain percentage which is to be ascertained from the monthly calculations of the Ministry of Labour as to the index number of the cost of living. That is calculated in a manner which represents an accurate calculation. It does not represent itself to be all that people sometimes attribute to it, but it is the cost of maintaining unchanged a certain standard of living that is determined by certain investigations, showing that for a typical family there are so many pounds of bread, so much butter, so much milk and tea, a certain allowance for rent and clothing, and so on. In that sense it is a strictly accurate calculation. Then these figures, which are in the possession of the Deparment, will have to have added to them a certain percentage, and therefore in fact you prescribe by Act of Parliament precise minimum rates. What is the consequence likely to be? I am certain that the hon. Member who moved the Second Reading of the Bill moved it in the hope that it would increase wage rates. That was his purpose and intention.


The minimum rates.


It was his hope that it would increase the minimum rates of wages. If the other rates of wages remain unaltered, that means that it will add so much to the wage bill—how much, none of us can predict without a very exhaustive statistical survey—but nevertheless it is anticipated that the amount to be paid out in wages will be definitely increased. Therefore, it is a proposal that either the profits of coal mining should be diminished or that the sale price should be increased. Coal mining is hot a very profitable enterprise at the moment. For the last four or five years the two winter quarters have, taking the whole country, shown moderate margins.


According to the ascertainments.


Quite so, but if the ascertainments are wrong, the fault lies with the accountants, and they, I would remind the hon. Member who interrupts, are appointed jointly by the employers and the workpeople. If the miners' organisations are content to have incompetent men, and if they think they are producing inaccurate information, it is the duty of the miners' organisations to—


I do not suggest that. I suggest that the figures at which coal is sold from the collieries to selling agents are below those given to the auditors. They are not the full extent of the profits made in the industry.


The hon. Member suggests that the ascertainments are misleading on the ground that when coal is sold by a colliery company to an allied company that owns coke ovens, it is transferred at an unduly low price.


Not merely that. It is sold to agents, who again sell the coal.


I was only using the coke oven firm as an illustration. The hon. Member suggests that the coal is transferred from one legal entity to another, both under the same ownership, and in fact the profit that should be attributed to coal mining is attributed to coal selling, or coke oven production, or conceivably pig iron production, or the rest of it. If the hon. Member believes that, it is not difficult to ascertain, because it is the duty of accountants to find out at what prices this coal is transferred. They are entitled to contrast that price with the price at which coal is definitely sold from one entity to another entity, which are not connected with one another, and if the hon. Member suggests that accountants of a high professional standing can be hoaxed or will permit themselves to be hoaxed in that way, he amazes me. If he further suggests that the organisation with which he is connected will tolerate that form of dishonesty without making a protest in the proper place, I am still further amazed. There is nothing to stop the duty of the accountant to verify whether the ascertainment is properly made, just as it is the duty of an accountant auditing the books of a company to satisfy himself that a stock valuation is honest. Otherwise, the accountants are completely failing in their duty and deceiving the public and the shareholders of the company. Therefore, I do not think it is good enough to suggest that coal-mining profits are far in excess of what they are shown to be owing to deliberate errors in the ascertainment in the transfer value of coal from the mining company to the company which is using or distributing the coal.

I will come back to the point I was making. The two winter quarters for several years have shown profits at a rate of 10d. per ton; for the summer quarters they were losing between 3d. and 4d. a ton on the average—a very narrow margin indeed. If the hon. Member for Workington is of the opinion that this Bill will result in a substantial addition to the wage bill, manifestly the bulk, if not all, of the profit will be wiped out. It is not as if that profit is a uniform profit. Some companies are doing better than others owing to variations in conditions of the kind of coal they are producing. There are even some firms, when the industry as a whole has made a profit, which made a loss through no fault of their own. Obviously, if the costs of production are going to be raised in this way, the industry will have to recoup itself by increasing sale prices. Coal mining is suffering to-day from the fact that a great part of its markets have been taken from it by other forms of fuel. A great part of shipping is run on oil and is not likely to return to coal. Ships of war, too, burn oil and are not likely to revert to coal for obvious reasons having regard to the purpose for which the ships are required. Therefore coal has lost a large market, and many years may pass before general economic development will represent an increased demand sufficient to absorb the markets lost through the displacement of coal by oil.

What is the position to-day with regard to wholesale coal prices? They are, roughly speaking, one-fifth above prewar. The latest figure I have been able to ascertain is that the general level of wholesale prices, that is mixing all kinds of coal together, is 22 per cent. up. The earnings per shift are about 46 per cent. up. There has, of course, been a certain rise in personal efficiency. The output per man shift is higher to-day than ever before in our mining history. There has been a very marked advance in the output per shift in the last two or three years. I think that two years ago the output per man shift was 21½ cwt., and now it is over 23 cwt. That is a remarkable improvement, and I have no doubt it has been that improvement in the efficiency of the workers and the efficiency of the apparatus supplied to them which has enabled them to maintain their earnings per shift over periods of great difficulty. It is an amazing thing that when you look at the earnings per shift published in the quarterly returns of the Mines Department, you will find that the earnings per shift to-day are practically the same within a few pence as five years ago. In the meantime, the price level has fallen very materially. That is largely the result of the application of coal cutting machinery and the increased personal efficiency of the men to which we can all pay tribute.

Their actual earnings per shift are 46 per cent. above the pre-war level. The cost-of-living index number is now 41, so that the general average of earnings is up more than the cost of living has advanced, which is a very remarkable thing, because coal mining is to-day a depressed industry, though in pre-war days it was having what one might call a boom. The hon. Member for Working-ton proposes, rightly or wrongly—though I have every sympathy with his object, I am afraid of the consequences of this Bill—to add something to wage costs at a time when the industry is fighting with its back to the wall but with some rising hopes. There has been some advance in exports, but the industry has only a precarious hold on its increasing exports. The return for the month of March—again I speak from recollection—was not too good reading, showing some reaction in the export trade.

At a time like this, is it wise to prejudice this industry, which is fighting for its life, and in the last few years has lost 300,000 of its personnel? There are 300,000 men who will never get back to work in this industry, as far as I can see. It had a personnel of 1,250,000 in 1920, to-day it has registered as insured rather less than a million, and of that million a quarter of a million are out of work, and they will never all get back. Are the promoters of this Bill doing anything to the advantage of the ordinary coal miner by appealing to his sentiment and telling him that they are doing something to make his minimum more secure, without at the same time telling him that inevitably this will force up the costs of production at a time when the industry is passing through the most critical period in its history. That is why while I am desirous of seeing prosperity brought hack to the devastated mining areas, I ask the House to hesitate before giving a Second reading to this Bill, however beneficent its intention. I know that its intentions are altogether beneficent, because there is nothing the hon. Member for Workington ever does which has not a good object in view. We all respect him, and I hope we enjoy his respect, but that is no reason why, when he comes forward with a Bill of this character, we should not point out the risks which are involved—the risks to the employment of those whom he represents, the risks to the industry with which he has been associated all his life. Therefore, I sincerely hope he will not press this Bill to a division. We have given him an opportunity of ventilating some of the difficulties under which the mining industry is now working, and others have had an opportunity of pointing out that there are real risks in attempting to pass a Bill of this character into law. I hope he will not press it to a division, because if he does so I shall regretfully find myself compelled to vote against him.

3.18 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir WALTER SMILES

In the case of a number of the Bills before us we see at the end of them the statement "This Bill shall not apply to Northern Ireland." There are no such words at the end of this Bill, and I would like to hear from the Mover whether he has consulted the Government of Northern Ireland about it, or consulted any of the potential owners of coal mines in the North of Ireland.


The original Act does not apply to Northern Ireland.


We are looking forward to an extension of the coal mining industry in Northern Ireland. Up at Fairhead there are relics of old coal mines, and there is one place in Ulster called Coal Island and I would remark that just as Ireland gave the benefits of Christianity to the North of England so was coal mining originally brought from Ireland to the North of England. Before voting on this Measure, one would like to be certain of how it will affect industries over there. Imperial Chemical Industries have started factories for the production of petrol from coal, and it may be that that is the greatest thing that has happened in the coal industry for the past 60 years or more. It may be that, in future, we shall be independent of oil supplies from abroad and that our warships will not be so vulnerable to foreign Powers because the oil that is necessary for them will be produced here. If that development is a success, the new industry in the North of Ireland will be hampered at the very start if minimum wage Bills are to apply to it. The promoter of the Bill has said that the present Minimum Wage Act does not apply to Northern Ireland. Before casting a vote upon this matter I would like to hear the opinions of the Northern Ireland Government.

3.22 p.m.


I have listened to the greater part of the Debate upon this Bill. We have had most admirable speeches from hon. Members of the Opposition, and a great number of things have been said which ought to have an answer. If I had never heard of this subject before I came to the House I should have ample reason for voting against the Bill. It is not fair that we should be expected to vote for the Bill in blind faith and on the word of a certain number of hon. Members who think that it is a good Bill, but are so dumb that they not a reason to advance for thinking so. A Bill of this kind will do more harm than good.

One hon. Member talked of the position that arises when wages are regulated from outside an industry. I can give an example of the result of imposing a wage-rate upon an industry in the case of the embroidery industry. Up to about 50 years ago there was a very important cottage industry in the North of Ireland. Undoubtedly very low wages were paid, and some well-intentioned people secured the establishment of a trade board for that industry. The trade board, I have no doubt with the best intentions, laid down a rate of wages which had to be paid. The net result is that that industry is practically extinguished. It has almost ceased to exist, and a very important supplementary form of income has been taken away from the wives and daughters of that part of the country. The Bill is bound to do exactly the same thing for the coal trade. Coal, for a very large number of purposes, is absolutely indispensable, and, if the supply were limited, it would be possible to force up the price of it without regard to the general circumstances.

Coal, as has been pointed out again and again, has no longer a monopoly, but is competing in the market with other fuels. More coal is being produced than is required by industry, and the export market has been largely lost. What must be the result? Will some hon. Member explain how, in face of the fact that coal itself is a competing fuel, and of the fact that at the present time there is an excess production of coal, the price can be raised so as to provide these rates and the industry continue in operation? This is not a Bill for reconstruction; it is a Bill to stabilise wages in the coal industry as it exists to-day. We have not heard a word as to how that objection, which seems to me to be a valid objection, can be met, and at the moment my own unaided intelligence does not enable me to find the answer.

There are two or three other points on which I should like to ask questions. Sub-section (1) of Clause 2 says: In the case of any failure to pay wages in accordance with the provisions of the foregoing section, an employer shall be guilty of an offence against this Act, and shall be liable on summary conviction in respect of each offence to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds and to a fine not exceeding five pounds for each day in respect of which the offence is committed after conviction therefor. Is that the penalty for not paying the legal rate of wages up to the date of the conviction; and, if the employer cannot pay the arrears on the spot, is that a continuance of the offence involving a penalty of £5 a day? Or is the penalty to be £5 a day in respect of work performed subsequently to the conviction? It seems to me that the drafting is obscure. Similarly, in Sub-section (2) the drafting is rather difficult. It says: On the conviction of an employer for failing to pay wages in accordance with the foregoing section to a person employed, the court may by the conviction adjudge the employer convicted to pay, in addition to any fine, such sum as appears to the court to be clue to the person employed on account of wages in accordance with the provisions of this section"— but it does not say to whom the payment is to be made. The words: as appears to the court to be due to the person employed are obviously related to the earlier part of the Clause, and do not indicate to whom the payment is to be made. Is this an additional fine, and does the saving provision at the end enable a man to recover wages in addition to the employer having to pay both the fine and the arrears of wages? The drafting seems to me to be extremely obscure, and I should be glad if some hon. Member would kindly give me light on the subject. If the court adjudges that there is a payment to be made, to whom is it to be made, and is it to be made by way of an additional fine, or is it to be made to the person who has not received the full amount of wages? Can someone explain that? When I am asked to vote on a Bill I want to be reasonably certain what it means.


If the hon. Member will vote for the Second Reading, then, if he is dissatisfied with Clause 2 (2) he can put down Amendments in Committee and they will be considered.


My duty is to examine everything that is put before the House.


On a point of Order. Is not this obstruction? The hon. Member was not here for the first two hours of the Debate when the Bill was being explained by competent persons.


That is not a matter for me.


Will someone explain how it is possible to raise the rates of wages, the industry being one in which there is over-production?

3.34 p.m.


I feel more than gratified at the enthusiastic reception of hon. Members opposite, and I should like, in return, to pay them this compliment, that they could hardly have chosen a more opportune time in which to endeavour to smuggle through a Bill of this type. The Bill will not, in fact, have any effect on wage rates as they are at present. The minimum rates that it lays down are already on the average being exceeded over the whole of the country. I do not want hon. Members to take an intelligent interest in what I am saying—that is impossible—but they might take some interest. I suggest that to fix the principle of a minimum wage is always a dangerous thing to do. The minimum wage tends very often to become the maximum wage, and in this particular industry the original Minimum Wage Act which this Bill is seeking to amend was passed in a moment of panic by a Liberal Government in 1912.

Neither of these things are at all likely to commend the Bill to this House. Even the Liberal Government in 1912 at a time when they were prepared to interfere with industry to a very considerable extent said, when the Bill was introduced, that they had no intention of making it a precedent or indeed of allowing it to go any further than could be helped. Mr. Asquith at the time said that he was not disposed to settle the question of fixing the figure of wages in an Act of Parliament which was not involved in any way with the purpose and scope of the Bill. The present Bill seems to do exactly those things which Mr. Asquith was trying to avoid. It fixes the minimum rate of wages based on the figures in operation at the end of July, 1914, plus a variable quantity which will be based on the cost of living. That is an arbitrary figure generally. It is not a very good guide for the fixing of wages. I suggest that if hon. Members accept the principle that the minimum wage must rise with the cost of living, hon. Members opposite must also accept the principle that the minimum wage must fall with the cost of living. If the cost of living were to go down below that of July, 1914, it would only be logical that the minimum wage should then fall below the wage in operation in July, 1914. I do not think that hon. Members will be prepared to accept that or to look favourably upon an Amendment in Committee to make it effective, but unless they do so they cannot justify the logic of the principle in this Bill.


Why not?


Because clearly if wages rise with the cost of living they must also fall with the cost of living.


Will my hon. Friend explain why? I understand that wages should rise if you wished to raise the standard of living, but I do not see why they should also fall. On the other hand, if the hon. Member says that wages cannot rise with the cost of living as there is no money in the trade to enable them to do so, I can understand his argument, but I should like a little further explanation on the point.


The explanation is that, accepting my hon. Friend'n dictum that wages rise with the cost of living, when the cost of living goes down there must obviously be a general fall in price levels; otherwise there could be no fall in the cost of living. Unless all products take part in the general fall in price levels the uneconomic price will be applied to one particular product. If it is not possible to keep up, say, the level of the price of coal when the price of every other commodity is declining rapidly, and if these rates are to be fixed irrespective of the general trend, upwards and downwards, of wages, we should reach a situation in which coal could not be economically produced because there would be no market for it. The producers of the other commodities, after all, are the consumers of coal. If their purchasing power is reduced by a fall in the price of the commodities which they are producing, then it is not possible for them to purchase coal at an inflated price. Therefore, the price of coal must come down with the other commodities, and as a very large proportion of the cost of coal consists of the wages of the men who produce the coal, if those wages are fixed on rigid lines, it is impossible to allow enough elasticity to be able to sell the product.

I am not going to deny that it would be possible, probably, to maintain an internal price of coal at a high level. It might be done at the cost of bankrupting a number of other industries, but it is possible to control the internal market. Unfortunately, the export trade is not entirely dependent on an internal market. The export trade has to compete with other nations who are endeavouring to secure the same markets, and endeavouring to secure them at almost any cost. If arbitrary rates prevent the possibility of reducing the price of coal, then it seems to me that the export trade of coal will go, and the miners will not only derive no benefit from the fixing of their wage rates, but they will, on balance, lose very heavily by being thrown out of employment and put on to unemployment benefit, when their rate of remuneration will be very much lower even than the reduced wages in the trade where they were employed.

I will not detain the House very much longer, but, as this is a Second Beading debate, I want to bring the discussion away from some of the details of the Bill on to the question of general principles.


Would the hon. Gentleman mind explaining the point he was raising about the export trade in relation to the internal price level?


I think it can be said that the internal price level has very little effect on the export trade, which has to sell at an international price.


If the home trade is on such a rate that you can get a very high price for coal, and make the poor pay, then you might be able to export far below the cost price, and get your foreign market. That is a possibility.


I think that my hon. Friend has raised a valid point. It is true, I believe, to a certain extent, and for a very limited period of time, but ultimately the drain on the export, and the steady increase of the price of internal coal would have to go on through the whole of that period, and would ultimately make it impossible to provide any more means with which to subsidise the export trade, and I do not believe that ultimately any product can go on being produced at a loss. It might be that this could be maintained for several years, but I think in the end it would be bound to go the way of all efforts to produce an artificial market where a real market does not exist. This is not a new principle. It has been tried on many occasions. It was tried in the 18th century and as long ago as the time of the Roman Empire.


What is that new principle?


I am not saying that there is a new principle. It is a very old principle. It is an effort to provide uneconomic wages, whether the sales market justifies it or not, and also the principle of stimulating industries by raising internal prices to a very high degree and using the proceeds to subsidise the export trade. It was done in the 13th century in France, it was done in the middle ages in England and it was done as long ago as the Roman Empire.


Was it done in the mining industry?


I do not know that my Roman history is sufficiently erudite to say whether or not they financed the mining industry, but they certainly tried to do it in other industries. We are debating a question of principle, and the principle is the same to which ever industry you apply it. As I have said, it has been done before and it has failed, and any effort to do it again will also fail. I hope the House will not consider giving a Second Reading to the Bill. Apart from the main principle raised in it, the Bill is full of difficulties which hon. Members opposite say, with a wave of their hands, can all be sorted out in Committee. Hon. Members opposite have tried that on the House before. They frequently produce Bills full of difficult Clauses and cheerfully say that it will be all right in Committee.

Only a few weeks ago another Bill designed to interfere with industry to a considerable extent, was produced. That Bill was crammed with provisions which could never have been sorted out in Committee. We were appealed to to let the Bill have a Second Reading and to send it upstairs, so that the Standing Committee would put the thing right. It is putting an unfair burden on the Standing Committees to expect them to re-correct the faulty drafting of Bills. I suggest that the principle of this Bill is unsound and that the details are worse, and that there is no reason for prolonging the death agony.




On a point of Order. May I draw attention to the fact that the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) has interrupted the hon. Member four times?


If the hon. Member gives way, it is in order.


It is collusion.


The hon. Member is referring to principles. There is a principle in Clause 3. Is he quite sure that that is wrong?


I am again bound to agree with the hon. Member, and to say that Clause 3 is not as bad as the rest of the Bill, but that is a very poor compliment. Apart from the merits of Clause 3, I think the rest of the Bill is so bad and is likely to have such deleterious effects upon the industry that it should be rejected without hesitation. It would only involve the coal trade in worse difficulties than it is in at the present time. Nearly all the difficulties in the coal trade in the past have been the result of Government interference. Just when it is beginning to regain some of its lost markets it is a grave matter for the House to put on what is called the last straw, which always has such an extraordinary effect on the back of the camel.

3.51 p.m.


I have no desire to detain the House at this late hour, tout I must say that I am genuinely alarmed at the principles of the Bill. To enforce a minimum wage in any industry which is struggling for its existence is to my mind a very dangerous principle. I am thinking at the moment of the shipping industry, which is struggling for its life. For some time now we have been endeavouring to interest the Government in the shipping industry not only in the running of ships, but in the building of ships, and if a minimum wage in the coal industry has the effect either of raising the price of coal or of reducing the quantity I shudder to think what this last straw, referred to by the hon., Member who has just spoken, will have on the shipping industry as a whole. The cheapness of the carriage of foodstuffs from foreign countries, from Australia, from India and other parts of the world to which coal is shipped depends largely on the outward freight. If coal is put up to such a price that they cannot compete with Polish or Dutch or German or American coal, it will simply mean that the shipowner will have to send his ships out of this country in ballast, which, in turn, will have the effect of making the homeward freight higher.

Obviously, the ship-owner, like any other well ordered business, has to take his business as a whole, and if he gets no freight out to enable him to reduce his loss, it is obvious that he will have to ask a higher freight for the cereals and other products that he brings from abroad. The result will be that the prices of foodstuffs will be put up as a consequence of the extra freight required for carrying the goods, and the cost of living to the people in this country will go up. I am not aware whether the promoters of the Bill have considered that point, but it is a very material one. We hear continuously about wages and the cost of living. I am not one of those who are constantly trying for low wages. I believe in a high wage rate, but, on the other hand, if action such as this means that the cost of living is to be put up the House as a whole should deprecate it. I am sure that the first people to cry out if the cost of living were put up as a result of this Bill would be the very people who are promoting it at the moment.

There is another aspect of the matter, and that is the competition which is at present going on between oil and coal. Oil is now being largely used in steamers instead of coal. What is the result? On an 8,000 ton steamer, with three boilers, I have nine firemen and six trimmers. If I use oil I employ four or five at the very outside in the stokehold. The result is that for every one of these steamers that is turned over to the consumption of oil instead of coal, four seamen

are put out of employment. If the cost of coal is to continue to be raised or to remain at its present price in comparison with oil, it simply means that more and more vessels will go over to oil and less employment will be found for firemen and trimmers.

Further than that, those of us who visit docks or travel in ships know well that to bunker a steamer with oil, as we are doing at Southampton every day, you simply attach a pipe to the vessel and turn on a pump, and you can then go to sleep for two or three hours while the vessel is being bunkered. If coal were used instead of oil large numbers of trimmers would be used to trim the coal into a vessel's bunkers, and a large number of men would be employed on lighters trimming the coal there also. There, again, you find that as a result of putting up the price of coal one is driven to the use more and more of oil. On all counts, therefore, so far as labour is concerned in the shipping industry, for which I speak particularly, I am genuinely alarmed lest there be any possible chance of raising the price of coal as a result of this Bill. If I had heard from any speaker—there has been a continuous request for more explanation of the Bill—that as a result of a minimum wage one would find the production of coal increased and reduced in price, and that more would be sold, I could have understood the Bill. But we have had no explanation to that effect. If this had veen purely a matter which affected this country it might have been understood, but at the present moment we find that Poland, amongst other countries, is very interested—

Mr. CAPE rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided: Ayes, 33; Noes, 79.

Division No. 199.] AYES. [4.0 p.m.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Thorne, William James
Attlee, Clement Richard Groves, Thomas E. Tinker, John Joseph
Batey, Joseph Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Cape, Thomas Lawson, John James Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Lunn, William Williams Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Daggar, George McEntee, Valentine L. Wilmot, John
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Mainwaring, William Henry Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
Dobble, William Paling, Wilfred
Edwards, Charles Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Rea, Walter Russell Mr. John and Mr. G. Macdonald.
Applin, Lieut. Col. Reginald V. K. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Reid, David D. (County Down)
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsf'd) Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)
Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.) Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Beit, Sir Alfred L. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Benn, sir Arthur Shirley Hume, Sir George Hopwood Runge, Norah Cecil
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Rutherford, John (Edmonton)
Burnett, John George Hurd, Sir Percy Salmon, Sir Isidore
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Clayton, Sir Christopher Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Somervell, Sir Donald
Cobb, Sir Cyril Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Cooke, Douglas Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.) Stuart, Lord C. Crichton.
Courthope, Colonel Sir George L. Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Tate, Mavis Constance
Crossley, A. C. Llewellin, Major John J. Thorp, Linton Theodore
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'ndsw'th) Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Davison, Sir William Henry Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.) Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) McKie, John Hamilton Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Emmott, Charles E. G. C. McLean, Major Sir Alan Wayland, Sir William A.
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Macmillan, Maurice Harold Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Whyte, Jardine Bell
Ford, Sir Patrick J. Marsden, Commander Arthur Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Galbraith, James Francis Wallace Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Wise, Alfred R.
Gower, Sir Robert Natlon, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Withers, Sir John James
Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)
Grimston, R. V. O'Donovan, Dr. William James TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Guy, J. C. Morrison Penny, Sir George Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. Smiles and
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Petherick, M. Mr. Herbert Williams.
Hales, Harold K. Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)

Original Question again proposed.

It being after Four of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.


Whereupon Mr. Speaker adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 2.

Adjourned at Seven Minutes after Four o'Clock until Monday next, 23rd April.

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