§ 3.58 p.m.
§ Mr. SORENSEN
I beg to move,That, in the opinion of this House, the time has arrived when the normal working week should be substantially reduced, in order to allow the workers to benefit from the increased productivity of modern industry; and this House calls upon His Majesty's Government to introduce legislation in accordance with the convention adopted by the International Labour Conference of 1935, with a view to giving effect to a reduction of hours of employment without reduction of weekly earnings.According to the old Jewish legend of creation our foreparents were driven from Eden into the world of Clydeside, Downing Street and Poplar with the curse that with the sweat of their brows they should eat bread. I understand that a supplementary curse was laid upon them to the effect that henceforth he who did not work should not eat. This is a combination which this Government does its best to see more than unpleasantly fulfilled. Since that time it has been accepted by the great majority of people that hard toil must be for ever the lot of the ordinary man. Yet there has been a wistful belief, sustained through the past and existing to-day, that sometime this curse of toil may be released, for a fact that we must recognise is that according to Scriptural evidence even the Creator had a day off after He had completed his labours. That in itself is symbolic of the belief many possess, that what increasingly matters in these days is not so much the quantity of labour as the value of that labour and the object for which we do labour. Men and women are coming more and more to appreciate that in these days it may be possible so to organise our economic and social resources as at last to be able to release man for his real fulfilment.
The Church in the middle ages established the principle of holy days, for the recreation of soul and body, and in that way established the fact that man indeed does not live by bread alone. Yet we must admit that for many centuries hard economic necessity has driven us to meet the claim of hunger, tyrannical fecundity, war and the State. In the last 150 years of the industrial revolution, through the elevation of the machine, it has become possible for man to get his own back on that primitive curse and perhaps at 458 long last to be released from the tyranny of toil. By means of his inventive genius, man is now able to increase the productivity of the soil and the effect of his own labour. When in the "dark Satanic mills" looms were erected in Lancashire, they were looked upon by many at the time as being the source out of which there would flow an ever-expanding flood of wealth which could be enjoyed not merely by the few but by the great bulk of mankind. Unfortunately a new addition to the primitive curse seemed to fall on the great mass of the people. They were hired together in congested towns and choked with sulphur and carbon, and gained very little from the achievement of this new agency of wealth production. Man in fact became freshly enslaved—enslaved no longer to primitive necessity but this time to mechanical necessity. The ancient curse, that claimed it should continue to the third and fourth generation, did indeed seem to be vindicated by the passage of years.
The cry of the writer of the last century, that "Men must work and women must weep," even now, though somewhat modified, still seems to be true of the great majority of the people in our land. Yet from the early days of the last century there were efforts being made, some of them successful, towards mitigating the harshness of the more severe burdens that rested on the backs of the masses of working-class people. Robert Owen, to whom not nearly sufficient tribute has been paid and who indeed preceded Lord Shaftesbury in his work for factory legislation, must be honoured as one who did lay down the principle of the eight hours day and within certain limitations tried to apply it to his own factory, and in particular to the 500 children who were employed in the mills of which he was the manager. It is true that Robert Owen become discouraged by the hostility that was shown towards his effort, but it is well to remember that his agitation on behalf of the limitation of hours in factories involved proposals for the limitation of hours for young people under the age of 18 to a maximum of 10½, no night work for young people under 18 and the abolition of all child labour for those under 10.
It is true that we have gone a long way from that time and that there are to-day 459 many who are enjoying much shorter hours of labour; but I would remind the House that essentially the same kind of opposition that was shown towards Owen and Shaftesbury when they were trying to reduce the hours of labour is to-day being shown towards the demand now being made for a much more drastic reduction of the hours of labour, in view of the greater mechanical skill and equipment that are now at our command. Arguments were frequently used in those days, based on religious conviction on the one hand and on pseudo-scientific opinion on the other, that it would be a gross interference with the laws of God and man to try to reduce the hours even of the wretched children of five and six years of age who were taken from the poorhouses and the workhouses of England and Scotland to toil for their masters in the mills.
No Member of this House would dream to-day of advancing so crude an opposition to our claim for shorter hours of labour. They would now admit that their predecessors were in the wrong. But I suggest that in course of time possibly the same reluctance that many hon. Members have to assist in the still further reduction of hours of labour, will seem to be as stupid and blind as we now see the hostility of those who opposed Owen and Shaftesbury to have been. It is interesting to observe how, during the last century, the masters and employers in our industrial system constantly rung the changes between religious and economic arguments against shorter hours of labour. On the one hand they argued that it was a Divine dispensation that we should work by the sweat of our brows, and that idleness and thriftlessness and degeneration would prevail if there was any lightening of that burden. On the other hand they would frequently argue that it was necessary for the great mass of people thus to toil, and that otherwise there would not be sufficient produced for man's needs. Carlyle on one occasion said:There is always hope in a man that actually and earnestly works. In idleness alone is there perpetual despair.That certainly can be said very truthfully of the condition of some of the 2,000,000 who are plunged into undesired unemployment. But it also illustrates the attitude of a very large number of people in 460 the Victorian era, who held firmly that life existed for work rather than work for life. Fortunately we are now coming to see that in fact our aim is to live and not to work, and that our task should be to minimise the amount of obligatory and compulsory toil in order that the richer capacities of mankind may have their complete fulfilment.
It is well to realise that many of these arguments, based on a scientific foundation years ago, no longer hold good. There was some truth in the contention in previous years that in fact there was not enough to go round, in view of increasing population from age to age; but I would point out what perhaps many hon. Members now realise, that on every hand there has been an almost staggering increase both of production and wealth. According to the League of Nations figures, from 1913 to 1929 the world production of food and raw materials increased by 28 per cent., whilst the world population increased by only 10 per cent. Those figures alone demonstrate and vindicate my contention that to-day the real problem confronting us is no longer the age-long problem of scarcity, but the problem of abundance. I suggest that there would be no problem if we were wise in organising our human affairs, that the ancient curse of toil could be released and man at last could have some measure of real freedom. The Macmillan Committee Report pointed out that the output by the workers of this country had increased in five years by something like 11 per cent., and an investigation made in the United States in 35 particular factories revealed that between 1919 and 1927 the increased productivity per head was 74 per cent.
In view of that I have surely made out a prima facie case for the contention that the time is overdue when the hours of labour should be still further and drastically scaled down, and that man at least should have that leisure without which he cannot be truly himself. It is quite true that owing to the beneficial activity of the trade unions, a number of agreements now exist and that the workers have very materially reaped the benefit of this increased production. In a number of industries the trade unions have secured a maximum 48-hour week and in some industries a 42-hour week. That has been done by the constant pressure of the trade unions. Had it not 461 been for that activity the reluctance, and in fact the hostility, of ill-informed employers and business men in this country would not have allowed this leisure to be enjoyed by the mass of the people. Legislatively we have already admitted the principle of shorter hours of labour. The miners have secured a shorter working day compared with years ago. But there are many Members in this House who at the time did their utmost to prevent that reduction of the miners' working day. Had they succeeded I suggest that to-day the volume of unemployment in the mining industry would be much greater even than it is. I would bear tribute to the efforts and work of men like the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) respecting early closing of shops, who in thus encouraging shorter hours has undoubtedly assisted in some measure towards creating a conviction that we could have and should have more hours of leisure.
At the same time, although undoubtedly, as compared with 50, 40 or 30 years ago, the great mass of people are working shorter hours, frequently that gain is woefully deceptive. Much in fact has also been lost in the shortening of hours. There is the increased strain that many workpeople feel, and, secondly, there is the extra travelling which they have to undertake in order to get to their places of occupation. I live in an outer London suburb. Every day there is a multitude of my own electors, as well as others from an adjoining constituency, who have to scramble for buses and trams and trains and experience a nervous strain for an hour before they start work—a strain which counterbalances any benefit they may get from shorter hours of labour. In addition to that, once they have formed the component parts of a human caterpillar and descended into a train or boarded a bus they find that frequently they have to stand like a lot of humanised Ostend rabbits packed together in boxes while they are dragged up to London. There may be Members of this House who know what it is to stand in a train on one leg or to stand on someone else's foot for half an hour or so, breathing heavily down someone else's neck or someone else breathing heavily down their necks, trying to read a newspaper, while others are perhaps engaged in the custom beloved of ladies, of "two purl and one plain."
462 Those who have that experience realise the difficulties under which thousands of working people, both black-coated and others, are living to-day. That toil has been added to the working day. In some localities there are inhabitants who have to travel for an hour and a-half or two hours before they start work. One must realise that the shorter working day which exists now is accompanied by these two factors, first, greater strain following upon speeding up and the rationalisation process in industry, and, secondly, the longer hours of travel which are imposed as workers are driven farther out into the suburbs and away from the centre of London, and farther away from their work in other parts of the country. In that way many of the gains of the shorter working day have been lost, and many, indeed, would be inclined to agree to working an extra hour a day if only they could be relieved of some of the burden of extra travel and strain which they now bear. On the other hand, we have to admit this appalling fact: In spite of this being an age of abundance, in spite of it being admitted, in principle at least, that we could now substantially reduce the working day, in spite of the admission by some of the more enlightened members of great firms and great monopolies that the working day could be reduced to six or even five hours, we have a terrible reflection on our intelligence in the form of 2,000,000 unemployed in this country alone, in addition to those now in work who are constantly worried lest the spectre of unemployment should visit their homes. In this connection I would draw attention to an interesting observation made by the editor of the Conservative Sunday newspaper the "Observer." That particular melancholy prophet, writing in 1933, said:Science has raised the capacity of output a thousandfold.I should have thought that was a slight exaggeration, but it is not for me to question the convictions of a Conservative editor.The machine is dispensing wholesale with human assistance, and the workless and the wageless cannot buy the goods it would provide …. A huge proportion of those can never be re-absorbed so long as invention and organisation continue the supplanting of human labour …. Plenty and Poverty are facing each other, with a gulf between.463 Apparently the writer has no solution for the problem. All he can offer to this tragic army of unwanted human beings is the prospect of being thrown into the social dustbin and left there. Apparently it does not occur to him, or if it does he does not mention it, that the right path to take is not to plunge hundreds of thousands into unnecessary leisure but to spread out the leisure so that all can have a chance of enjoying the harvest of modern skill, modern science and modern invention. If we are educating the younger generation in some of the values and qualities of life we cannot expect them to anticipate with any pleasure the prospect of becoming mere machine slaves like their forefathers. The greater the stimulus applied to the human mind the more discontented they will be if converted merely into cogs in a great machine. The cumulative effect of education has been to inspire an increasing number of people with a demand for opportunities still further to expand their minds.
It is alleged, however, that shorter hours of labour are impossible because of competition coming from countries with longer hours and lower wage standards. Shorter hours in this country would mean, it is argued, that the costs of production would be increased, that we should be put at an economic disadvantage as compared with our competitors and trade would be lost. Before I sit down I may have a word to say on that aspect of the matter, but meanwhile I would point out that whatever may be the case in the expert trade, that argument cannot apply with anything like the same force to trades producing goods for home consumption. Further, it may be argued that one concern cannot reduce the hours of labour unless the rest do so. That is all the more reason why legislation should be introduced to secure shorter hours of labour for all. It may also be argued that even if shorter hours of labour were introduced no net increase in employment would be provided. That might be so up to a point, but it need not be so. Certainly there could be more employment at lower wages, but I repudiate emphatically that solution.
Some hon. Members in this House have argued that the solution of our present difficulties would be found in share the 464 work and share the wages, but that is a proposal none of us would welcome, and I assert that it is completely unnecessary. If we lowered the hours of labour it would, in fact, lead to more employment rather than less, but we should then throw upon the present masters of industry the onus of finding means by which they could counterbalance the alleged increase in productive costs, means by which they could produce more and at the same time employ more in that greater production. I admit that under the capitalist system this might lead to an aggravation of an already existing problem, because without increasing consumption an increase in production would simply make confusion worse confounded; but that, of course, only makes more apparent the grave difficulties and inherent contradictions in our present social system.
Turning to the contention that on account of foreign competition we cannot reduce hours of labour, here I would remind hon. Members that efforts have constantly been made through the International Labour Office to secure stronger support for the principle of a drastic reduction of hours of labour than the Government of the day has been prepared to give. At Geneva last year the International Labour Office put on record that it was possible to reduce the hours of labour to as low as 90 per week. Can the Government really assure the House that they have done all they could have done towards implementing that recommendation? I am afraid they cannot. I know it has been said that there have not been sufficient safeguards against a reduction in the standard of living, but when I look through a recent publication issued by the Government I am impressed by the fact that the whole attitude of the Government's representatives has been a negative one. Again Sand again they emphasise difficulties; never do they propose ways by which the difficulties can be overcome. We have heard of "Yes" men who are complacent supporters of Governments, but in this case we have supporters of a Government who can say nothing else than "No" on this question of shortening hours.
On that ground alone I suggest that the present Government should make an infinitely greater attempt to meet the desires of other Governments, as well as of the organised workers, for a mutual 465 agreement for the reduction of working hours throughout the world, or in as many countries as will agree to it, but to be accompanied by no reduction in the standard of life. I am convinced that if a strong lead had been given by this Government, if there had been helpfulness instead of unhelpfulness, if they had been positive instead of negative, we should have had a much richer response than has been forthcoming. Even the representatives of certain other Governments at the International Labour Office last year were disgusted with the negativist attitude of our own Government, and expressed that view. I am certain myself that behind the scenes are many who are not anxious to see the shorter working week or the shorter working day. My purpose in moving this Motion is to secure an expression of opinion from hon. Members on all sides that the Government should regard this matter as being as important as the subject which was discussed on Monday and Tuesday of last week. What is the value of military, naval, and air defence if we are so fascinated by steel and all the impedimenta of war that we forget that life is more important than death and preparations for the expansion of life of far greater importance that the preparations for the expansion of death?
To turn back to trades and services which are not affected by international competition, I would remind the House that only some two or three weeks ago the hon. Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) declared that he would like to see the Government supporting the principle of shorter hours of work. He said it would bring some of the benefits of mechanisation to the workers, and suggested that the Government might start by introducing the five-day week into the Post Office. I should like to know whether the Government will take that advice. The hon. Member for Aldershot cannot be accused of having great sympathies with us on this side of the House, but he realised that the Government could set an example. There is no excuse for the Government not doing so. The Post Office has this year a surplus, gained, perhaps, by rather shady means, and the Government could afford to introduce the shorter working week. That would increase employment and at the same time bring more leisure to the workers, and perhaps the country as a 466 whole would profit by the example set in that way.
There is much more that I could have said on this vital question, but I feel that many Members in the House really do realise that although there are grave difficulties in the way of a further progressive reduction of hours of labour under capitalism yet nevertheless it would be one way in which two problems at least could be partially dealt with. One is the problem of finding increased employment. I am not over emphasising that, because I know it is difficult, but in some measure, at least, it has been implicitly agreed that it would absorb some fraction of the unemployed. Personally, I would emphasise far more the benefits that would come to the workers still in employment of a greater and fuller chance to live.
I am sorry that the Minister of Labour is not in his place this afternon, though I understand the reason for his absence, and I should like the representative of the Ministry of Labour who is present to convey this appeal to the Minister. I know that he is not a Diehard, although there are Diehards supporting him, and I trust that he is not a Live-soft. As a matter of fact, he works hard and strenuously and I am sure there is a great strain on his body and his mind and, I would even say, under the circumstances, on his conscience. I would ask him to use all his influence with Members on his side of the House, in particular those who are more sympathetic to his point of view than others, to persuade the Government to take a wiser, more sympathetic and more determined course on this question. If they did that, if they could be helpful instead of unhelpful, constructive instead of destructive, I am sure that, internationally, we should be able to lead the world towards reduced hours of labour, and that nationally they would be setting an example to those employers in this country who are not particularly affected by international trade. For the sake of the greater fulfilment of human life, and in order that men and women may feel that life is not merely a prison but that they may exercise their creative capacity, I beg the House to support this Motion, and to do so with the conviction that in this age of abundance it is only stupidity and blindness that will prevent us from 467 harvesting the leisure which that abundance now makes possible.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. ELLIS SMITH
I beg to second the Motion.
I will confine myself to the first part of the Motion, which states:The normal working week should be substantially reduced in order to allow the workers to benefit from the increased productivity of modern industry.The reason for so doing is that hon. Members on this side of the House who are connected with big industrial organisations, or who have had the benefit of attending International Labour conferences at Geneva, hope to take part in the Debate. Professor Keynes wrote many years ago a book entitled "The Economic Consequences of the Peace Treaty," and in the light of the present international situation that book is well worth re-reading. He described industry as being like a top, because, in order that industry might maintain its equilibrium, it has to be continually whipped as one would whip a top. The whipping consists in increased productivity, new regulations, the development of combines and, finally, the development of monopoly. Some of us are relatively young, but in our time we have seen great changes in industry in the direction of improving the position of monopoly. Industry has become stabilised and has increased its total profits, and while it is true that in the published returns, after company meetings, profits may seem to be small, yet the workpeople have to make profits on more debenture share stock than ever. More fixed capital is going into industry, and the result is that the total accumulated profit is greater than ever.
That has been brought about in the main by the intensified exploitation of human labour, new methods of production and the application of scientific methods, such as piece work, the conveyor system, welfare schemes and the latest micromotion method of production. This enables trained managers or their representatives to take a motion film of people working, and, by examination of the film, to cut out unnecessary operations and maintain the rhythm of work so as to get the maximum production out of the people 468 employed. Who has benefited from all this? World productivity has increased 20 per cent. from 1914 to 1924, and there has been a further increase since then, according to the Macmillan Committee Report. That is particularly so in Great Britain where, since 1914, there has also been a great increase in unemployment. It is no use blaming this man or that man, as some people do, or using invective or making vague sweeping statements regarding the position. Let us confine ourselves to the facts.
Let us first take the railways. As a result of the introduction of sentinel engines, shunting can low be operated with one man. As a result of quick steaming boilers and super-heating methods, large economies are taking place in the employment of labour, the consumption of coal and the use of water. Most hon. Members will be familiar with large concrete coal chutes that are now being put up in all industrial centres, and which stand there as a monument to the fact that, on the average, 30 men have been thrown out of employment by the adoption of those chutes. There is the introduction of trains which one man can control. Within a few miles of where I live there is a length of railway track which had six signal boxes until the latest electrically operated signal system was installed. There are now only two signal boxes. Signals and points are now worked by electrical power, and in place of the semaphore arms by day and red and green lights at night, the four-coloured-light system is now used for the guidance of drivers by day and by night. The number of levers to be operated under the old system was 332, and under the new system 187. In each signal box there is an illuminated diagram on which can be plainly seen the movement of every train.
In 1913, 618,000 men were employed on the railways. In 1921 there were 736,000, but in 1935 only 597,000 men. In 1926, 13,000 employés were discharged from the railways; in 1927, 6,000; in 1928, 25,000; in 1929, 41,000; in 1931, 18,000; and in 1932, 31,000. Year by year the numbers employed were reduced and the degree of exploitation of each man employed was intensified, yet the hours of labour remained the same. In 1931, five men worked where six had worked in 1921, and by 1934 four men worked where five men had worked in 1931. The engine drivers 469 employed in 1921 numbered 73,000, and in 1934, 63,900. The shunters in 1921 numbered 19,100, and in 1931, 16,300. Here we get to the tragedy of the position. For every three cleaners employed in 1921 only one is now employed. For every four guards in 1921 there are now only three, and for every two porters there is now only one. During the same period, 28,000 clerks and 27,000 artisans have been discharged. The same can be said in respect of the iron foundries and offices.
Hon. Members who have visited the Business Efficiency Exhibition will have seen the latest methods of typewriting and duplicating, accounting and calculating by machine, enabling a girl fresh from school to get through 40 times the amount of work which would have been done by her grandfather. Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland said, on 22nd March, 1931, that when a certain American firm opened a factory in England they found that the output in this country was five per cent. greater than the output in an American factory. My hon. Friend who introduced the Motion dealt with the employers' point of view regarding the effect of a Measure of this kind upon the costs of production, and he rightly pointed it out, because we are bound to be concerned with it, yet here are a captain of industry and an experienced politician stating that an American firm found that they are able to obtain five per cent. more production here than in America. I have familiarised myself with the facts of increased production in the mining industry, but as there are hon. Members who are directly connected with that industry and desire to take part in the Debate I do not intend to deal with the mining industry.
According to the "Star" of 14th January, 1932, the number of employés employed per week per car manufactured at the Austin Motor Works, had fallen in the following way—and these are startling figures which deserve the attention of all who are interested in industrial affairs: In 1922, the employés per car manufactured were 55, in 1923 they were 24; in 1924, 20; in 1925, 17; and in 1927, 10. There have been increases in production since that year, and fewer men are employed per car produced. That has meant a greater output per man employed, and has at the same time produced more unemployment. The machines 470 displaced men and the men employed utilised more human energy than ever. Those who cannot obtain employment are having to be satisfied with signing on at the Employment Exchanges. Those are some of the economic facts of the increase in productivity.
§ Mr. BAXTER
Is it not true that the Austin Motor Works employ very many more men in the total? I do not know. I simply ask for information.
§ Mr. SMITH
The hon. Member is right to intervene with a question which concerns the accuracy of my figures, and I do not blame him for his intervention. It is true that more men are employed, but we must remember that they are in an expanding industry. Capital is being put into the industry, and there is an ever growing demand for cars. The point I was making is that, per man employed, the production is greater than ever it was. I have come straight out of industry. I have spent 25 years in industry and have come straight into this House, and I know the effect upon the physique of increased exploitation of this kind.
§ Mr. SMITH
I wish I had the opportunity of dealing with the fallacious argument which the hon. Member is putting forward, but there is no time to deal with it now, and I want to confine myself to the Resolution. I have stated the economic facts, which cannot be doubted. Some people, like the hon. Member opposite, may say that in the old days machines caused more employment, and I agree, but in those days there was an ever-expanding market and an ever-increasing purchasing power. In these days the position is reversed; our markets are contracting, and the purchasing power of the masses is also contracting, with the result that there is this unequal development within the present social system, which will gradually throttle it unless the masses of the people throughout the world take steps to deal with the problem. Productivity is ever expanding, and all this is giving rise to monopoly development, to quotas, tariff's and restrictions, and it is giving rise to the political policy which is being carried out by the National Government.
Sir Charles Manner, speaking at a meeting of the Incorporated Sales 471 Manager's Association, estimated that the adoption of the 40-hour week in Great Britain would result in the employment of at least 500,000 more men. If a 40-hour week were adopted, it would find additional employment in the shipbuilding industry, in London alone, for 1,000 men, in the South-East for another 1,000, in the South-West for 3,130, in the Midlands, in employment on the engines, for 35, in the North-West for 2,170, on the North-East Coast for 2,510 and so on. In the shipbuilding industry alone, the adoption of the 40-hour week would result in additional employment for 13,695 workers. The time has arrived when it is reasonable to expect that the Government of the day should support the adoption of the 40-hour week. The time has arrived when the masses of the people should benefit by the great increase in productivity by having more leisure as a result of a reduction of working hours. But what is the philosophy of right hon. Gentlemen opposite—not all of them, but some of them? The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, was present as chief guest at a British Glass Convention held some time ago, when Sir Max Bonn spoke, and this is his philosophy:There is no security against the sabotage of the inventive mind. Our progress has cursed us with excess capacity due to enlargement of plant or increased productivity per existing unit. Short of a marked increase in demand and the practical exclusion of foreign ware, I foresee that our present state of technical efficiency will lead to a downhill race for us all.What a theory, what a tragedy, when captains of industry, responsible men holding important positions in industry, are prepared to accept a fatalistic philosophy of that description. Their policy is a negative policy; our policy is the only positive and constructive policy that is now before the public of this country for dealing with this increase in productivity. They destroy Nature's supplies; they take steps to impede production; they prevent the masses of the people from consuming what man is able to produce; they prevent people from obtaining Nature's supplies in abundance. What man can produce, man ought to have an opportunity of consuming.
Our forefathers, particularly in the part of the country where I was born, were known as the Luddites. They smashed 472 the machines, because machines in those days threw them out of employment. We welcome the machines, but we want to use our intelligence to control them for man's benefit. The legal right is now being sought to scrap machines, to do what our forefathers were put in prison for doing. National Shipbuilding Securities has been formed, and now a Bill is going through the House with the object of scrapping spindles in the cotton spinning industry. Methods of restricting and impeding development are being introduced to an extent that was undreamt of a few years ago. A labour-saving device in a factory is a labour-starving device. An electric cleaner or a Ewbank carpet sweeper in our humble homes is looked upon as a blessing. Surely the time has arrived when all machines should be looked upon as a blessing by the people who are called upon to manage them. This can only be brought about by reducing the hours of labour and finding employment for more men. I admit that we have made some progress.
I want to refer to the fact that in the past His Majesty's Government have been satisfied with allowing a Civil servant to represent them at the International Labour Office. I do not want to say anything, and it is not my custom to say anything, about anyone who is not present, but I do want to say that surely, at important international conferences, we ought to be represented by a Cabinet Minister, who can accept full responsibility for the whole policy, rather than by a evil servant, as we have been in the past. This county has given a lead to the world in the development of social services throughout fie generations, and I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to continue to give that lead in the direction of the universal adoption of the 40-hour week.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ Mr. CROSSLEY
I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:hours of labour should only be reduced where it is practicable to maintain existing earnings in the industries affected, and, since the draft convention of 1935 does not safeguard this principle, this House does not approve of legislation based upon it.473 I am in some difficulty, after the speeches of the hon. Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) and the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. E. Smith), not only because they give me the feeling that I am living in the world of Mr. H. G. Wells, but also because, although the hon. Members have placed a rather specific Motion on the Order Paper, neither of them mentioned the proceedings of the International Labour Organisation in 1935. Those proceedings were extremely interesting, and they have a very great bearing upon this discussion. They were just mentioned by the hon. Member who moved the Motion, but he did not go into a single one of the points raised at that conference, or mention a single speech. He dealt with the matter entirely in generalities. I admit that our task to-day—and I am going to end up with an appeal to the Government on this subject, because I believe I am moving a constructive, and not a destructive Amendment—our task to-day is complicated by the fact that we have insufficient data. We have a mountainous mass of data, but it is insufficient, and much of it is tendentious. We have things like the P.E.P. research, and we have the industrial surveys of the universities; we have the tendentious opinions of certain economists, sometimes engaged in putting forward party opinions, sometimes not; but we have not any real, co-ordinated evidence on which we can deal with this most complicated question in all its aspects.
In moving my Amendment I am going to try to study this question from the aspect of what was passed at the International Labour Organisation's Conference at Geneva last year, and I want to try to make to the House four points about that conference. The Draft Convention was not definitely consistent with the maintenance of weekly earnings. I am not quite certain whether the Mover of the Motion had that fact in mind or not, because he spoke about work-sharing. The second point that I want to make is that the convention applies to average hours over a period, and not simply to the working hours of the week itself. Then I want to enter into some speculation as to the consequences of Government regulation of hours, and whether hon. Members opposite, any more than we, would desire those consequences. Finally, I want to mention the probable effects on certain trades, and to make 474 what I think will be constructive proposals to the Government.
The Draft Convention has a very interesting history. It was proposed by the Italians, it was a general convention on principle alone, and it was put into last year's agenda after three previous attempts had been made to get a more specific convention. The British workers' representative, when the Draft Convention came up, failed to secure the insertion of the phrase "maintenance of earnings" in addition to the phrase "standard of living." The Italian delegate made it perfectly clear that Italian wages had been reduced when their hours had been reduced, and that he desired to reserve the right to make further reductions. I shall return to that point in a moment. The Secretary-General of the Conference, after the Convention had been passed, said this:In strict law the Convention does not imply any obligation on any nation to take any action as regards the shortening of hours until it ratifies the separate conventions.Those are separate conventions applying to various industries which were afterwards discussed. I would like to make two observations on that. Quite clearly there has been no uniformity as between country and country under such general terms as those, and moreover I think it is only fair to mention—I do not want to be fatuous—that of the 27 Governments who voted in favour of the Draft Convention, 18 have not ratified yet the Washington Hours Convention passed 16 years ago. [Interruption.] Nor did the Labour party when they were in office. They did produce a Bill but they never brought it up for Second Reading. Hon. Members opposite know perfectly well that some of their most powerful trade unions were opposed to it. Twenty-four nations have not yet ratified the 48 Hours Convention for commerce and offices of five years ago.
After the passing of that convention an Hours Committee was set up. The British workers' delegate there moved to add the words, "By means of such adjustment of wages as will secure to the workers not less income per week than was received by them prior to the hours being reduced." Immediately after that—hon. Members may read it in the complete report of the proceedings on page 959—the Italian delegate got up 475 and made himself extremely clear. He said, "I cannot accept a definite obligation to maintain weekly earnings, thus precluding Governments from maintaining the standard of living of the workers by means other than the maintenance of weekly earnings. A certain elasticity is necessary in the text of the convention in order to enable the maintenance of the standard of living to be effected by such means as are most suitable to each country and best adapted to their constitution and customs."
I would remind hon. Members that that was an Italian delegate speaking for a country where industry is an integral part of the corporate State. After that a third stage was reached and separate conventions were discussed. The work of the International Labour organisation is complicated. It discussed public works, building and contracting, iron and steel, and coal mining, but none of those separate conventions was passed, though they are to be on the agenda this year. They did discuss and pass a convention dealing with glass bottles, and there the position really did become clarified because the British workers' representative, who had withdrawn his Amendment on the Hours Committee on the understanding that it would come up before the separate convention of each of the industries concerned, then discovered that it was not intended to do anything about weekly earnings in the separate conventions. The British Government delegate, who has been very much criticised, and concerning whom a very false impression is given in the Press of the country, moved, and the British workers' delegate seconded this Amendment:In accordance with the general draft convention concerning the general reduction of hours of work and the draft resolution on the same subject, any reduction of hours involved by the application of this convention shall he accompanied by measures for ensuring that the average weekly earnings … are not in consequence reduced.The Italian representative opposed it on the spot. It was the Italians who got the kudos for bringing this whole question up before the conference. The Amendment was defeated by 44 votes to 14, and it might interest the House to know that in the minority were the workers', and in most cases the employers' delegations, of Great Britain, 476 the Irish Free State, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and the United States of America. Among those in the majority, that is for allowing reduced wages and other means proposed to maintain the standard of living, were Liberia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Colombia, Albania, and Afghanistan.
One thing that emerged from that confusion of committees and sub-committees and conventions and resolutions, was that there was a definite split among the workers' representatives. One big body of workers' delegations believed in work-sharing with the employed who, they considered, should make sacrifices and share out with the unemployed. The others believed, as we believe, in shorter hours without reduction of earnings. The other thing that stands out quite clearly from the deliberations of the International Labour Organisation was that the British Government representative made it absolutely clear that he stood for nothing that would permit of any reduction of weekly earnings. I apologise to the House if I have spent rather a long time on going into the affairs of the International Labour Organisation, but it is specifically mentioned in the hon. Member's Motion, and why he did not go more deeply into it I cannot quite understand.
The next point I want to make is that the convention passed is over an average period of weeks. There is no period laid down such as days or weeks or months. Article II of the Building Convention quite definitely allows the making up of the time necessary after bad weather and so on in out-door trades without payment of overtime rates. That is a very important point. The hon. Gentleman is asking that legislation should be based on the International Labour Organisation Convention, but could a Bill be based on a convention which does not allow overtime and does allow heavy hours of working in one week at the expense of low hours of working the next week? I cannot conceive that tie railway trade unions would approve of the railway companies being allowed to casualise their labour as they would be doing under this convention.
The other point I want to bring before the House is one possible consequence of the Government regulation of hours. It would have to be accompanied by a Government enactment against reduction 477 of wages. The trade unions and the employers would have to meet and in many industries the employers would immediately put before the trade unions the economic position of the industry, and the trade unions would have to agree that there would have to be lower wages if there were to be shorter hours, and that would conflict with the whole principle which other hon. Members as well as we have taken up. If the Government did enact that the wages should not be reduced the inevitable consequence would be to throw more people out of employment in some industries. After all, the costs of production are an important factor in keeping people employed. Also are we not getting very near the corporate state when we discuss the direct control by the Government of hours and wages, and is not the method of bargaining through trade boards, bargaining between trade unions and employers, far more satisfactory? If this House ever intervenes it intervenes as an absolutely independent assembly.
The last point I would raise is its probable effects upon certain industries. Here I hope to show that I am not against shorter hours. I believe they are necessary and that they will come, and it is far better that they should come by bargaining between the trade unions and employers than in any other way. I am very interested in a boys' club down in Hackney Wick. It is run for boys working in industries and shops. In London where the trade unions are weak the hours many of those boys work are disgraceful. They would not be allowed in the North. It is a crying scandal and it ought to be dealt with somehow.
I have some knowledge of the cotton industry. Do not think I am against shorter hours in the cotton industry. I think they are perfectly feasible tomorrow, provided the employés will agree to a two-shift system of 6½ or 7 hours per week instead of eight, provided at the same time there is another redundancy Bill giving a much more drastic curtailment of redundant plant, because a great deal of extra plant would be made redundant by the two-shift system. You could have shorter hours with benefit to the industry to-morrow if you could get agreement on all sides. It is an interesting point for hon. Members opposite to study, and I know some of their trade union leaders are perfectly alive to it.
478 Then there is the question mentioned by the hon. Member who seconded this Motion, the increase of productivity in industries catering for the home market. There are certain industries in the home market where I am convinced hours could be reduced—industries where the labour cost represents a low proportion of the selling price. Hon. Members will remember a pamphlet we all received from Messrs. Boots on their five-day week. They will remember that Messrs. Boots pointed out that their labour costs vary from 2.6 to 23 per cent. of the selling price of their articles. The highest percentage of labour costs in the selling price of an article is in coal, which is I believe as much as 66 per cent. There is a corollary to this whole discussion which to my mind makes it rather an unreal discussion. It is that we are discussing one aspect of a most complicated question. It is a question which does not even fall under one Ministry. The Board of Trade, the Home Office, the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Labour are all concerned. We have in the House now a passion for co-ordination. We have recently also the appointment of the Minister without Portfolio, very often known as the Minister of Thought. Some verses came into my hand the other day about him. I am not sure that they do not hit the nail on the head.Doubtless the Minister of ThoughtThinks deeply, as indeed he ought,And sends his memoranda far,Health and labour, peace and war.All that ever happens isThey say it's no concern of his.That is what must always comeFrom thinking in a vacuum.I only mention my right hon. Friend—I can use that phrase in a very real sense—because I cannot conceive that he has a real job of work to do where he is at present. I am going to suggest that there should be drawn up a survey which will give the Mover of the Motion and myself and others better data for all these complicated industrial and social dovetailing questions. I have sketched the points which I think it should contain. It should take the industries of the country and get returns on certain subjects, and these are the subjects which I think should be taken—the increase or decrease over a period of years of effective demand, mechanical improvements and how far they have led to 479 increased production, the proportion of production for home, Empire and foreign markets, the change of destination in recent years of their products and an analysis of the profits of the industry. So much for the production side.
On the labour side, the proportion of men, women and young persons employed in the industry, the average ages, the proportion of apprentices where the firms are teaching apprentices, the proportion of skilled and unskilled workers and the wages, hours and health statistics in each factory. There should be added to that an analysis of continuous working of industries susceptible to continuous working, outdoor industries carried on by daylight, like shipbuilding and house-building, and an analysis of the shortage or surplus of available catagories of labour. I know it is a vast survey that I am asking for, but I am asking the Government whether in all the future social and industrial legislation which they will have to consider—however much they do not like thinking about it they will have to consider it—it is not really worth their while if out of this Debate there came an idea which would lead to the construction of such an industrial survey as that, which I believe would lead to legislation in the future being founded on realities, possibly I might also add Debates on theoretical questions in this House.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Mr. FURNESS
I beg to second the Amendment.
In my very short experience of the House, especially on Wednesday afternoons, I have thought on several occasions that hon. Members on this side who moved Amendments to Motions that have been moved by hon. Members opposite, have an unlikable and ungracious task because, speaking for myself, and I am sure for very many of my friends, we are all in agreement with the spirit which underlies this Motion and those that hon. Members have moved on many occasions during my short time here. But if one is in agreement with the spirit of a Motion, one may not be in agreement with the method by which it is proposed to put it into concrete effect. I agree entirely with hon. Members opposite in their approach to this question of production and labour. We are 480 living now in a world in which production is constantly increasing. I do not agree with hon. Members opposite that consumption has reached a static point, because we cannot say that consumption has reached its maximum until everyone in the world has enough of the ordinary things of life. At the same time, production is constantly increasing, and we have in many cases people who have too much to do, whilst at the same time we have people with nothing to do at all.
That is one side of the problem that confronts us. The other side is that education has given to our people to-day a greater desire for leisure than they had 50 or 100 years ago. They have new interests, such as reading, to take a very easy illustration, which were not open to people engaged in manual industry, say, 100 years ago. At the same time as they have ever widening interests opening for them, the work of many of them is becoming, by the mechanisation of industry, more and more monotonous. I agree with those elderly people who preach to the young the doctrine that happiness can only be found in work, but it is a vastly different thing for someone to work in a profession or in this House, or in some job in which he can see his work progressing under his hand, and working, as some people unfortunately have to do, at one dull repetition process, and people who have merely this dull and mechanical job to do do not find in their work their real lives. They find their real lives at home, in their hobbies or in their sports or their recreation. It is very natural that, feeling like that, they should ardently desire that greater leisure should be afforded to them.
We have all gone very tar indeed from that Victorian idea in which leisure was looked upon as immoral and work as a virtue in itself. I do not think anyone to-day would maintain that it is a virtue in itself to do in a laborious fashion something that can be done more quickly and more easily, thus leaving time for recreation or for other activities. If we were debating a Motion that it is desirable that working hours should be shorter and hours of proper recreation extended, I do not think that I or my hon. Friend would be moving an Amendment to this Motion. But we are not. We are debating a definite method by 481 which hon. Members opposite say that their end can be attained. Having agreed that the end is desirable, the Debate should really turn upon whether or not this is the proper method.
I very much doubt whether general legislation is the best way of dealing with a problem of this kind. I am a little doubtful whether legislation at all is necessary in the vast majority of cases. Our method in this country has been to proceed by the constant pressure of trade unions supported, when they have been successful, by enlightened public opinion, and I think in most industries that pressure is telling and we are steadily advancing in the direction of a better standard of living for all our workers and better hours and conditions. But there may be industries in which there is no effective trade union organisation. It may be that there are industries in which the units of production are so small that you cannot exercise trade union activities within them, such things as those industries that are covered by the Trade Boards Act or the Agricultural Workers Act, in which the agricultural workers union alone was not powerful enough to secure the maintenance of a proper wage level. In those cases legislation of this kind might be useful, but legislation is better directed towards one industry at a time than applying by a general Act a uniform number of 40 hours a week because conditions vary so much.
It is quite easy to reduce working hours in an industry in which the labour cost is unimportant in relation to the cost of the finished article. It is much more difficult to do it in those industries in which the labour cost is a very large percentage of the finished article. I suppose in an industry like agriculture it is very high. In coal-mining it is, I believe, something like 65 per cent., and shipbuilding is not very far below that percentage. In those industries by cutting down your working hours you are interfering and increasing the cost of something which is a big proportion of the finished article. Again there are industries which employ heavy and expensive, or elaborate machinery. In an industry of that kind it is the aim of the management to keep the machinery running as long as possible. The existence of that machinery 482 is a standing expenditure that has to be paid for. If by any legislation it is kept standing idle for longer than it used to be, it is evident that there will be, at least to begin with, some increase in cost.
If general legislation of this kind were suddenly introduced one of several results would follow. Probably the first thing that would happen would be a reduction of the wage level. It may be—and I think I am a little more optimistic than my hon. Friend—that the trade unions would be able to resist that, as they have done successfully in many cases. If the management is not able to take that way out of the difficulty, it will look round to try to find machinery which will do more work than the machinery already in existence. Therefore, by sudden legislation of that kind, you would aggravate considerably your present unemployment problem. So much for the general principle, on which I agree with my hon. Friend that it is an occasion for some inquiry into the matter.
We are not debating the general principle but the application, by legislation, of the Geneva Convention. I have prepared an analysis of what took place at Geneva and of what that Convention consists. I have always been taught that, in matters of this kind, it is just as well at the beginning to read the document to which you are referring. I realise that hon. Members opposite have read it, but candidly I had not read it until I began to consider this matter. The Convention says:Each member of the International Labour Organisation which ratifies this convention declares its approval of (a) the principle of a 40-hour week applied in such a manner that the standard of living is not reduced in consequence; and (b) the taking or facilitating of such measures as may be judged appropriate to secure this end; and undertakes to apply this principle to classes of employment in accordance with the detailed provisions to be prescribed by such separate conventions as are ratified by that member.As my hon. Friend has pointed out, there is rather a dangerous trap in that apparently straightforward use of the words "maintenance of the standard of living." I, personally, on a hurried examination, would have thought that that would have preserved the wages provision, but, as is made clear by the quotation of my hon. 483 Friend from the proceedings of the Convention, those words were understood to have quite a different meaning. It has always been, as I understand it, a fundamental principle with hon. Members opposite, and I am sure with all progressive Members of this House, that when the State extends, as the State has been extending social services, and when our people are made better off by such action, that the betterment which they receive through the State shall not he taken into account in fixing their wage levels. That is a fundamental principle of policy in this country, but we find, as my hon. Friend has told us, that that policy is not followed out in certain other countries, which, in applying the Convention, would not follow the rule which we should endeavour to follow here. The second point—and that again my hon. Friend has explained—is that the normal working week is not a week of 40 hours taken week by week, but an average week of 40 hours. Thus—and I think my figures are correct—a man could work 50 hours one week, 50 hours the next week, and 10 hours the third week and still not have exceeded the figure laid down by the Convention. He would not be outside the framework of the Convention.
§ Mr. FURNESS
It is a fact in the Convention itself. I think that I am right about it. I do not want to argue with the hon. Member opposite, but, he will agree that my statement is a fair one if he will read the proceedings at the Convention, and the words of the Convention itself. I agree that we could stop it happening in this country by legislation, but we have to bear in mind that it would not be very wise to apply in this country in a proper sense a Convention which other people might interpret in quite a different sense in passing it into legislation.
Mr. FU RNESS
It is an attractive thing to certain governments to get rid of unemployment by covering it up. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members opposite must wait a minute. 484 It is quite an attractive thing for certain governments to spread the misery generally, and to say that every man shall do so much work, so that you cannot say of any man that he is entirely without work, and to say that every man shall Receive so much wages, so that you cannot say of any man that he receives nothing. That is the policy with which certain Governments, of which hon. Members have made specific mention, introduced this Convention. Much as we all desire to get rid of unemployment, we desire to get rid of it by increasing work and maintaining wages, rather than by lowering the general level and making everybody unemployed for part of his time.
I think that those two points are sufficient to disclose the effect of the Motion, which asks the Government to introduce legislation to enforce the Convention. If it were Motion asking our Government to make efforts to get a proper international convention drawn up, and then, if others would sign it, that we should sign it, I personally would not be voting against the Motion. The Motion asks us to sign something which is not a good document and which, if we sign it, will do us a very great deal of harm. I would welcome an international agreement which would really be watertight and enforce in other countries the same standards of wages and hours which we have here. I believe that if we cannot get that, we shall in this country best get what we want by that method—it has been laughed at by certain Members of the opposite party—which one of their leading economists once described as "the inevitability of gradualness." It is easy to laugh at that, but in the end that method of doing the thing stage by stage has been the method which has built up the system of social services in this country and our industrial and economic welfare. Rather than go in for the method of general legislation, we should proceed along the lines of trade union action and the education of public opinion, and then, if there were any people who stood out beyond what the general community desired, specific legislation might be applied.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. GRAHAM WHITE
The hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Furness) has just made a very constructive contribution to, 485 what, so far, has been a very interesting Debate. It has been marked by unanimity both on the part of the Movers of the Motion and the Movers of the Amendment as to the objects to be sought, but with some divergence of view as to the best and most practical way of achieving it. As between one side of the House and the other, I think that greater optimism as to the practicability and possibility of doing something is on the side of the Movers of the Amendment than on the side of the two hon. Members who brought forward the Motion. I do not find myself entirely in agreement with the hon. Member for Sunderland when he says that we should rely chiefly upon the individual movement and interplay of trade union activities with regard to industry at home. I agree that it is very important. It is to them that we owe practically all the progress that we have made up to the present time, but I cannot dismiss from my mind that it is very important indeed that we should seek to achieve, by international agreement and consultation, the greatest amount of international stability of wage levels. That is indeed, in a world such as it is at present, a matter of paramount importance. The changes in standards of life and living in different countries, leading, as they do, to dislocation one form or another, change economic adjustments and lead us into economic international warfare of one kind or another, which have repercussions and tend to keep the world in the unhappy state in which we find it. We should seek to make the greatest contribution we can to international discussion in order that we may, perhaps, in time achieve something of that international stability which is so essential to the condition of life for the workers throughout the whole world.
The condition of the Hours of Work Convention at Geneva has had a counterpart in the Disarmament Conference in the League of Nations. It has gone on for a number of years now. There have been innumerable sub-committees and technical committees appointed, and some slight advances, and there has been all the manoeuvring and interplay of opinion spoken about and described by the hon. Member for Sunderland and others. If there is a charge to be brought against His Majesty's Government not of to-day, but since the International Labour Office 486 was created, it is that their activities there lend themselves to the interpretation that, while they agree in principle with what is being put forward, they are in fact doing nothing at all about it. They have at times said that they must in practice oppose a certain thing because there was riot a sufficient amount of knowledge about the economic situation which would enable a decision to be come to intelligently. That brings me to a point in the speech of the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Crossley). I endorse and support most cordially his appeal for either more fact-finding work, or the marshalling and adaptation of the facts we have already available. That is a matter of the very first importance, for how much better and stronger would have been the position of the representatives of His Majesty's Government at the International Labour Office if, when those matters came up, instead of saying "We can no longer discuss it because the information about economic aspects is not satisfactory," we would say, "We have, as far as our country is concerned, the information which will enable us to proceed." If we have not got the information, we should get it, so that we can meet next year and discuss these matters on an intelligent basis. I hope the Government will display greater energy and conviction about the work of the International Labour Office. It is a matter of vast importance.
The question as to whether there should be a 40-hour week or a 48-hour week is really not a very vital matter. There is no particular merit in any standard hour-week. We onec had a 54-hour week, and it is encouraging to know—I should like to find something encouraging to say, because hon. Members above the Gangway could not find anything—that in spite of all the checks and failures the International Labour Office is now discussing not a 48-hour week but a 40-hour week. That shows how much progress has been made in spite of all the gloomy feelings of hon. Members opposite, and it may be that in 10 years' time we shall be considering even a less number of hours per week. We are living in a machine age, and in a properly organised society it should be our duty to see that those who are displaced and have to adopt other forms of occupation do not suffer in the interim. That is a proposition with which everybody is prepared to agree in principle, 487 and I hope is also prepared to work in practice. I think it is true to say that if those who are concerned with the reorganisation of industry are so minded, it is possible to reorganise on the basis of a 40-hour week. It may not be applicable to industry in general, but it is a statement of fact because it has been done in several important industries already.
§ Mr. WHITE
If I were stating a general rule it would he my duty to explain that point but I said that it was a fact; it had already been done. If I said that it was very easy I stated more than I ought to have stated. But while we are thinking of the great importance of international stability in working hours we should not overlook the indirect methods which can be used for reducing working hours. Messrs. Boots have already been referred to in the Debate. It may be that hon. Members are not aware of the remarkable success of experiments which have been made at Bourneville during the last 20 years. By the introduction of a continuation school there are 1,400 members of the staff under the age of 18 who must attend one full day each week, for which they are paid standard rates, and this has led in that factory to an increase in the volume of work which is equivalent to a reduction of 1½ hours per week over the whole of the personnel of the factory. That is very remarkable. The same firm have a holiday system whereby the employés get 3½ weeks' holiday in each year, which again necessitates the employment of more people. If we were considering the matter on the basis of a work-sharing scheme that part of the scheme in itself would be equivalent to a reduction of working hours over the whole of the factory of 1 hour 20 minutes per week. They have also in operation a pension scheme which retires their people at 60 years of age. It makes room for the employment of several hundreds more who would not otherwise be employed, and by all these means the firm have been 488 able to reduce the hours over the whole personnel of the factory equivalent to something like five or six hours per week. That is a very remarkable result which is well worth studying.
To those who have this matter in mind I would commend this general proposition, that if as a result of this machine age we are to have a considerable amount of enforced idleness, the proper thing is to concentrate those hours of idleness or leisure on those who are of an age to benefit from them, that is, those under the age of 18 and those over the age of 60 years. As the result of some researches I submitted a calculation on a previous occasion, and the figures show that if the school-leaving age were raised to 15 years and existing laws were put into operation, with part-time education up to 18 years of age, we should create work for the re-employment of persons older than 18 by a figure of about 400,000 to 500,000 persons a year.
§ Mr. CROSSLEY
I am very much interested in this point. Can the hon. Member tell us the source of his information?
§ Mr. WHITE
The hon. Member has already mentioned it this afternoon, but I should be glad to give him figures and particulars on the matter. That is my general proposition, that while it is not less important to endeavour to secure the maximum amount of international stability in order to avoid international complications, there are very fruitful lines of experiment at home which may produce valuable results. I find myself, however, in a difficulty to know whether I should vote for the Motion or for the Amendment. Hon. Members above the Gangway have done good service in introducing this topic. It is proper that Parliament, in an age when conditions are changing rapidly, should devote itself to the considerations and changes inevitable from the introduction of the machine. I am surprised that there is not a bigger attendance of hon. Members this afternoon. Having regard to the fact that the Eleven o'Clock Rule is suspended every day and the great pressure there is on hon. Members in attending to Standing Committee work, I should have thought that they would have attended this afternoon to express not merely their interest but their heartfelt sympathy in any effort to reduce working hours, including the 489 working hours of legislators. I hope the Government, in reviewing the circumstances, will have a fact-finding inquiry made, which will enable them at the next International Labour Office Conference not to put forward the excuse that there is no information available for coming to any decision on any of the conventions which have been produced, at all events so far as this country is concerned.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. ROWLANDS
I claim the indulgence of the House on this my first attempt to address it. I have listened with a great deal of interest to the discussion, and I want to join with those hon. Members who have expressed a desire to see the hours of the labouring classes reduced not only in this country but in every country in the world. The advances which have been made in education and the many opportunities the workers have for improving themselves in these days call for as much leisure time as they can possibly be given. The only difference that I can see between hon. Members on this side and hon. Members on the other is how this is to be attained. In examining the Motion I am rather at a loss to know what the International Convention has to do. I notice that in some instances the Motion which has been submitted runs away from the Resolution passed at Geneva. It leaves out certain arguments and, on the other hand, includes questions like the weekly wage, which were not mentioned in the Resolution passed at Geneva.
I should like to remind hon. Members opposite that it is very easy to pass resolutions in favour of shorter hours. I take it the intention is that when hon. Members are on the platform they can declare that they have put forward a Motion in this House which would have the result of reducing the normal working hours of the workers in practically every industry in the country. That is the spirit underlying the Motion, although it is not the exact wording of the Resolution passed by the International Labour Conference. If that is so, then they ought to know better than I some of the difficulties there are in redeeming these promises when sitting on the Government side of the House. Mention has been made of the coal mining industry. I remember what has 490 happened to the industry since 1926. After that long stoppage, it became necessary to increase the hours of labour in the industry, and on every platform of the country protests were made against the proposal. A promise was made that the Act of Parliament would be repealed, but immediately hon. Members opposite came to this side of the House the best they could do was to reduce the hours by half an hour per week. The then Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered a speech at Leicester in which he said:The Labour Government is pledged to redeem the seven hour day, and that promise would he redeemed, but he warned them that they must face facts. An immediate return to the seven hour day would inflict grievous disaster on the industry, pits would close and miners would be thrown out of work. Therefore, as a preliminary to a reduction of hours, the Government were taking steps to help the industry to re-establish itself. There must not be any reduction of wages.It may be asked why I am quoting this. It is because the Motion includes the great mining industry as well as other industries, and I say deliberately that if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite changed places with us to-day, they would say that any reduction of hours in this huge industry is unfortunately an absolute impossibility without a reduction in wages. I see hon. Members opposite shaking their heads; but they know what happened the other day when the miners claimed an addition to their wages. We have heard an excellent analysis of the difficulties of the industry from an hon. Member who spoke previously. Even the trade union leaders of the miners realised the difficulties. Because there was no money in the industry to pay for the increased wage, an appeal had to be made for higher prices. Those higher prices were obtained, and the result was that the miners' leaders themselves recommended the acceptance of even half of what they were demanding. Would they have done that if there were money in the industry? Certainly not, and I would not have blamed them for not doing it.
The point I want to make is that in order conscientiously to vote for the Motion, hon. Members opposite must ask themselves whether they could reduce the hours of labour in this great mining industry if they had the opportunity to do 491 it by legislation now. The Motion reads:The time has arrived when the normal working week should be substantially reduced.The Motion asks that it should be done now. It is for that reason that I support the Amendment. I appreciate the point made by the hon. Member who spoke last that there should be an international examination of the various industries and that an international arrangement should be arrived at. The Amendment suggests that we should proceed gradually but certainly towards the end we all have in view, and that hours should be reduced where it is possible to do so without there being a reduction in the wages of the workers. It is in that way and that way alone that the workers of this country can he given a happier and better life and enjoy greater leisure, and the industries of the country be given prosperity. I have great pleasure in supporting the Amendment.
§ 6.4 p.m.
§ Mr. G. MACDONALD
It affords me real pleasure to congratulate the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Rowlands) on his maiden speech, and that pleasure is increased by the fact that he happens to represent the county in which I was born. One is tempted on this occasion to depart from the ordinary custom of the House and to criticise his speech in its references to the mining industry, but it may be possible on future occasions for that to be done by Members representing mining constituencies.
I wish to associate myself with the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) as to the spirit and tone of the Debate, which have certainly been exceptionally good. I am not sure that the manner adopted by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment was not rather an apology for the Government's inactivity at Geneva. I was rather impressed by the Seconder—and I am sorry I interrupted him—when he was emphasising the point that the Convention could lead to a 15-hour week, followed by another 15-hour week and then a 10-hour week. That possibility was never used as an argument by the employers at Geneva, who used every argument they could find. Had they thought that this particular argument was 492 worth using, they would have used it. What surprises me is the way in which the Government and the employers adopt the same attitude on all industrial questions, for at Geneva the Government and the employers used the same three arguments. The employers opposed the Convention on the three following grounds. In the first place, they were convinced that a reduction of the normal working week would not alleviate, but would aggravate, unemployment. I can only say that whatever the Convention might have done—and I have much sympathy with the argument that it would not of necessity have meant a substantial reduction in the number of unemployed—it is, in my opinion, no argument at all to say that it would aggravate unemployment.
The second reason the employers gave for opposing the Convention was that past experience had shown it was impossible to frame an international agreement on the question which would be universally observed and enforced. If that be the Government's attitude, if they say that there is no guarantee that every country a member of the International Labour Office will honour the agreement, I submit that they have very poor grounds for opposing the Convention. Surely in the case of every convention there are some countries which are not prepared to ratify. There are several instance of conventions ratified by the British Government 10 years ago, but not yet ratified by dozens of countries, members of the International Labour Office. I can hardly believe the Government are sincere when they oppose ratification on the grounds of the possibility of some nations in the world not ratifying the Convention. The third reason given was that it is impossible to deal internationally with hours of work without also dealing with wages and taking into account the different circumstances as regards economic conditions and size of population in the various countries. I agree that that is a difficult question, and no one has suggested that the carrying out, of an international convention on hours which takes into account the wages is an easy task.
The reason we support the Motion is that we believe something ought to be done to enable the workers in the various industries to enjoy far more of the benefits of mechanisation than they have enjoyed hitherto. I intend to direct my remarks in the main to the mining in- 493 dustry, because that is the industry I know best. Those who represent the miners do not feel that this Convention will be a very great thing for the workers in that industry, for the miners are not to-day working a 40-hour week. Therefore, it is not because we feel that the miners' working week would be reduced if the Convention were ratified that we are adopting the attitude we do, but because we realise that it is a step in the right direction as regards other industries. We have argued at Geneva, and still argue, that the miners are entitled to have a convention which puts the hours at a lower figure than in the general Convention. The Parliamentary Secretary knows that at Geneva the British representatives put forward a claim for that.
I want, first of all, to show that the miners have suffered and not benefited from mechanisation. In 1913 the number of coal-cutting machines in the mining industry was 2,895, and in 1934 the number was 7,406. Let me now give the figure for conveyors, a machine which has altered coal-getting very much indeed. In 1913 there were in use in the mining industry in Great Britain 359 conveyors, and in 1934 the figure was 4,099. In 1913 the percentage of coal produced by machines was 8.5, and in 1934 it was 47. Since 1920 the average output in the mining industry has increased by 7 cwts. per man-shift worked. But we now hear of another machine which we very much fear, and in this connection I will read to the House a quotation from the "Manchester Guardian":A machine for which big claims are made has been installed in a Wigan coal mine. The machine, which is the invention of a Scottish mining expert, is a combined cutter and loader and has been perfected on the spot by the inventor. It is stated that many orders have already been placed for the new machines. One comment on the machine was: …. It will certainly revolutionise the industry. There is no question now that the type of men who will he required underground will be those with a good knowledge of engineering.'
§ Mr. MACDONALD
I appreciate that that particular machine has been taken out of the pit, but if I am told that it will not be improved upon, I shall be more satisfied.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
Purely, from the technical point of view, it is unlikely that it will make much further progress.
§ Mr. MACDONALD
I have been informed differently. I was told that the machine was taken out with a view to further experiments and improvements. If I am given to understand that the machine has been done away with, I will agree that reference to it is unnecessary. The point I wish to make is that the application of machinery to the mining industry has not brought any benefits to the miners. It has displaced thousands and thousands of miners, and even those who have been retained have suffered. There has been an intensification of work underground. There has always been a great physical strain in mining, as those of us who have done 20 years of work underground know, although we may not look too bad as the result of it. To-day mining is more than a physical strain, it is a tremendous nervous strain. Indeed, the nervous strain is to-day greater than the physical strain. If one considers the matter from the point of view of wages, it will be seen that no benefit has resulted from the application of machinery. In view of all this, hon. Members ought not to be surprised that we bring forward a Motion which will give the workers of this country some benefits from mechanisation.
There are some specific questions I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary. In the document which the Government have sent out as regards the 20th Session of the International Labour Conference to be held in June next, we are told that the Government have not yet made up their mind as to the coal industry in reference to this Convention. There are one or two questions which the Government ought to answer. I do not expect the Parliamentary Secretary to be in a position to give definite answers to-day, but we ought to know where the Government stand on these questions relating to the mining industry. The Government are asked: "Do you consider it desirable that the International Labour Conference should adopt, in the form of a draft convention, international regulations for the reduction of hours of work in coal mines in accordance with the principle laid down in the 40 Hour Week Convention, 1935?" Surely there is nothing to prevent the 495 Government saying, "Yes," or "No," to that question, and we who represent the miners are very anxious to know the Government's attitude.
The Government are further asked a question to which we would like to have an answer to-day if possible. It is, "Do you consider it desirable to retain as far as possible in the proposed Draft Convention the provision on the hours of work in the coal mines, save for such changes as would seem necessary in the lower limits of the hours?" We in the mining industry have always stood for the daily regulation of hours, which we think is the best regulation, and we have always opposed anything in the nature of a spreadover of hours. We think that the number of hours to be worked underground daily should be determined legally. We have a very strong trade union in the mining industry. We can get as many concessions from the employers possibly as any other trade union. Our strength enables us to do so. But we are not prepared to trust the determining of the number of hours to a trade union alone. We believe in legalising the hours of work for all industries. I do not see any great objection to the suggestion put forward by the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Furness) that the various industries should be taken separately. There is much to be said for that view. But all the Convention does is to lay down a maximum weekly number of hours. If we adopt the Convention, there is nothing in it to prevent the Government here saying, "The mining industry is very dangerous and instead of a 40-hour week there should be a 30-hour week in that industry." The Convention simply lays down 40 as a maximum for all the industries specified in it. Do the Government believe in any kind of international Convention for determining hours? If they are unable to ratify this Convention, what kind of Convention would they be prepared to ratify? We hear much about unilateral disarmament. We are not asking for unilateral action in this case. All we ask is that the Government should carry out the decision taken by them at Geneva—taken, I know, by them in a minority vote. Surely, the worker has suffered long enough as a result of mechanisation. Is it not time that the workers shared in the benefits? We are asking the House to pass a Motion which proposes to give more of the bene- 496 fits of mechanisation and rationalisation to the worker than he has been able to enjoy up to now.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR (Lieut.-Colonel Muirhead)
This being a Private Members' day, I shall apply the shorter hours principle to my own remarks. I share with the hon. N ember for Stretford (Mr. Crossley) a sense of disappointment that the Mover of this Motion did not really deal with what I consider to be the most substantial part of his proposal. The Motion having stated that the time has arrived when the normal working week should be substantially reduced, in order to allow the workers to benefit from the increased productivity of modern industry, proceeds:and this House calls upon His Majesty's Government to introduce legislation in accordance with the Convention adopted by the International Labour Conference of 1935, with a view to giving effect to a reduction of hours of employment without reduction of weekly earnings.I expected him to devote far more time than he did to analysing this Convention and seeing how it fitted in with the proviso in his own Motion that hours should be reduced without any reduction of weekly earnings. There has been a great deal of confusion on the subject of the 40-hour week Convention and this Motion, with its rather conflicting objectives, seems to be another instance of that confusion. It is therefore desirable that the issue should be clearly stated and for that reason I make no apologies for traversing again a good deal of the ground already so admirably covered by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment. In the first place let us be clear about the chronology of the proceedings at Geneva. First, there was the main Convention embodying the principle. There was then a draft Resolution—not a Convention—on the subject of wages. Then there were various draft Conventions with the object of applying the principle of the main Convention to certain industries. Successive Governments considered the question of the shorter working week and in discussing that problem they had to give consideration to the factors of cost on the one hand and wages on the other. As the Motion merely deals with wages, it is to that issue that I propose to confine my remarks.
497 There is no doubt that the ratification of this Convention, leaving aside what our likes, our dislikes and our ultimate hopes may be, would mean that you would reduce hours with a great risk of weekly wage earnings being reduced also. It was clear at Geneva when this Convention was being considered that many countries were specifically not prepared to agree to the principle of maintaining earnings. The hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) has quite justifiably asked me a question and he was kind enough to say that he did not require a specific answer in detail at short notice. May I, being at all events partly a Scotsman, reply to his question by asking him another. Is he prepared to have hours reduced in the coal industry on the principle of and in accordance with the words of the Convention which is mentioned in this Motion? I may add that I do not expect him to give an answer to that question straight away.
That consideration also has a bearing on the second question which the hon. Member asked me as to what sort of Convention the British Government would be prepared to accept. The answer is really what happened at Geneva. It was the fact that many countries were specifically not prepared to agree to the maintenance of earnings in connection with the reduction of hours, which prompted the workers' group led by the British representatives, to get passed a Resolution safeguarding, or at least putting forward the idea of safeguarding earnings. One has to remember that the Resolution is nothing more than a Resolution and can have no legal force whatever, but the fact that after the Convention had been considered, the workers' representatives pressed for the passing of that Resolution, showed, at all events, what was in the minds of British workers' representatives at Geneva.
§ Mr. E. J. WILLIAMS
Has not the hon. and gallant Gentleman forgotten that there is already a Convention on the coal industry?
Lieut.-Colonel MU I RHEAD
I am dealing at the moment with the specific question contained in the Motion.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
I understood that the hon. and gallant Gentleman's interrogation to my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) related to what 498 ought to be done in the coal industry. The question has already been asked and I think we are entitled to an answer: Is there not at Geneva and in the possession of His Majesty's Government a Convention which is awaiting ratification and what is the attitude of the Government on that Convention?
§ Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD
I was, at the moment, dealing with the particular Convention which is mentioned in the Motion. I am entitled to confine my remarks to that specific Convention. If the hon. Member who moved the Motion had wanted to specify some other Convention he could have done so quite easily, but this Convention is of his own choosing. I am merely dealing with the Convention which the hon. Member himself has chosen. The hon. Member for Ince asked me a question, in the first instance and I asked him another. I put it again to him. Is he prepared to accept a Convention on the same principle and in the same words as the particular Convention specified in the Motion?
§ Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD
No and I was not expecting the hon. Member to do so. The draft Convention which was put forward with the object of applying the principle of the earlier Convention did not embody the Resolution on wages for which the British workers representatives pressed, nor did it even pay that Resolution the slender compliment of mentioning it in the Preamble. In fact, the only reference to the matter is contained in the very shadowy words of the main Convention to the effect that the standard of living is not to be reduced in consequence. I was a little shocked to find that the Mover of the Motion used the phrase "standard of living" apparently under the impression that he was referring to maintenance of earnings. It did not seem to strike him that there is a vital difference between the words of the Convention about standard of living and the words of the Resolution for which the British workers representatives pressed, namely maintenance of earnings. There is, of course, a substantial difference and the wording of the Resolution showed the importance which British workers, at all events, attached to the meaning of that phrase.
499 If the Convention is ratified it means that the Government will give international sanction to reduce hours in other countries with reduction of wages. It is not a question, as the hon. Member for Ince suggested, of whether other countries come into the Convention or not. It is not a question of being frightened that other countries will not come in. It is really rather a question of being frightened that they will come in. It is a question of what the actual Convention contains and the point is, to put it frankly, that an international Convention which did not contain a provision for maintaining wages could he of no use to this country. This particular Convention contains no such provision. Indeed it contains an undertaking to the contrary and it is on that account, and not through any fear of other countries not coming in, that we take up the particular attitude which we have taken on the subject of this Convention.
In this discussion on shorter hours, there were two sets of people with two different objectives. First, there were those who wanted shorter working hours and reduced wages. Then there were those who wanted to shorten the hours and at the same time maintain the wages. I think it odd that the Mover of the Motion should have made no mention in it of the resolution to which I have already referred which was pressed for by the workers' delegation at Geneva. The Government's attitude towards this question and the emphasis which the Government put on the necessity for safeguarding wages, are supported by what is happening in connection with voluntary negotiations in this country. During better times the joint voluntary machinery of negotiation in this country continually laid emphasis on wages improvement. When we look at what that machinery has achieved, we are bound to admit that it has a considerable record of effectiveness to its credit. I do not think any general statement can override or supersede the method of joint negotiation by people on both sides of an industry who have had a lifetime of experience. Take the boot and shoe manufacturing industry. There they have come to a voluntary agreement for a reduction of hours from 48 to 46, to take effect next June. Do hon. Members really think the Government 500 could have compelled a further reduction of hours without at all events imperilling a reduction of wages?
§ Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD
I will not use the word "forced." I am prepared to take the machinery of joint voluntary negotiation, and the fact is that such negotiations—I will not use the word "forced " on one side or the other—have proved it possible to effect that reduction in the boot and shoe industry, and if the joint machinery had really had to make a still further reduction, having regard to the conditions of industry, that machinery would have been perfectly adequate to do it. I know hon. Members will say, "After all, if one has an international arrangement, everybody will do the same thing, and we shall be protected as well as other countries." Leaving aside the diversity of conditions in the various countries, the fact remains that this specific draft convention which we are discussing contains no such protection at all. In fact, the attitude of the other countries at Geneva to the main Convention which eventually emerged, and the resolution which the British workers pressed for afterwards show, I think, at the moment that it is not practicable to claim that this is a Convention which is satisfactory to the workers of this country. Obviously, the Government are not opposed to the idea of lessening the hours of work. The Government, of course, do not say that there are specific hours of work which are sacrosanct in perpetuity—nothing of the sort—but at the moment, taking the specific point which we are discussing, the Government refuse to legislate for the compulsory regulation of hours and for interfering with joint agreements in the industry for the purpose of supporting a particular draft Convention which, so far from containing any protection for the wages and earnings of the workers in this country, is, I maintain, a menace to the conditions of the British workers.
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ Mr. CHATER
I am convinced that not many years can elapse before either this Government or some other Government, and that, irrespective of its political colour, will be compelled by the 501 mere force of circumstances to give legislative attention to this question of shortening the hours of labour. I know it is extremely difficult to find statistics that will give us a clear view of the per centage of labour which is displaced by modern machinery, but in this House itself, during a Debate on the mining question, a statement was made by the hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake), on the 11th December last, which at any rate gives us some idea of the possible displacement of labour in the mining industry, and I propose at the very outset to quote what he said in order to illustrate the enormous displacement of labour which takes place owing to the introduction of modern machinery. He said:Under machine mining you displace perhaps 80 coal hewers who may be getting lls., 12s., or 13s. per shift, and in place of them you put 20 men, who probably earn 17s. or 18s. a shift, and 20 others who simply go on to day wages."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th December, 1935; col. 945, Vol. 307.]I do not pretend for a moment that the displacement there is quite as great as the figures would appear to show, but obviously, even if it is not as great as 50 per cent., it undoubtedly accounts for a great deal of the unemployment in the coal mining industry, because we see from the official figures that already 47 per cent. of the total production of coal is cut by machinery. I would adduce, as further evidence of the tremendous displacement of labour and the possibilities of machine production, a statement made by no less an authority than Lord Melchett, an authority which I venture to think will be above suspicion in any quarter of this House except perhaps my own. He said, speaking at the annual dinner of the British Chemical Plant Manufacturers Association on the 24th January, 1935:I do not think that any technical man would deny this first hypothesis, that it is physically possible to double the production of every important raw material and every important manufactured commodity within a period of the next 10 years. It is a perfectly practicable problem from the purely technical point of view. You can go through all your prime commodities and all your principal manufactured products and deal with them in some detail as I have done, and I do not think you will find one the production of which cannot be doubled quite easily, without any extraordinary factors having to be brought in, within the next decade.502 I do not know exactly what Lord Melchett meant by saying that it would not be necessary to bring in any extraordinary factors, but I believe it is a well known fact that in this country at the present time, with the existing plant which the country possesses, it would be quite possible in many instances to double production right away without employing any additional labour, and it is a gloomy prospect for us to look at, that a man in the position of Lord Melchett should tell us that we could double our production in the next 10 years without bringing in any extraordinary factors. His Lordship did not elucidate what he meant by those words, but I rather imagine he meant something along the lines that the existing plant was practically, sufficient for that production and that if the production were to be doubled, not a great deal of additional labour would be required to do it.
I want to ask whether it is not essential for the Government to consider this problem. In fact, whether they do or do not, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that the gradual growth of what has been called the hard core of unemployment will increase not only materially but tremendously during the 10 years referred to by Lord Melchett. There is no possible way of getting that hard core reduced, I will not say to manageable proportions, because I do not believe in such a thing—I believe the only way to deal with it is to get rid of it altogether—but to bring it down to something below what it is at the present time. I believe the only possible way in which it could be done is by a reduction in the hours of labour. What is the prospect? It will not be denied, I take it, that during the next 10 years we shall require to give employment to far more persons than at present, but if this economic development is to take place, that already we can double our production, practically speaking, without employing a very great percentage of additional labour, then there is not much prospect for those who are coming along in the immediate future to find employment.
There are three ways, so far as I can see, in which the problem of unemployment could be dealt with. First of all, if we acknowledge that mechanised production has overtaken to a large extent 503 the possibility of increased consumption on the part of the masses of the people, then the only other solution is shorter hours of labour. There are three ways in which it can be done—by making the period of the entry into labour later in life, by making, at the other end of life, the moment when a man may be able to cease to labour earlier, and, on the other hand, by reducing the hours of labour. I believe that in the last proposition, the one put forward in the Motion today, lies the most potent way of dealing with unemployment. I have listened during this Debate to all the pros and cons which have been put forward as to why it should or should not be done, and I admit the difficulties of concluding a satisfactory Convention at Geneva, but I believe, in addition to that, that there will come along circumstances which will override these considerations.
You cannot face the continuous piling up of unemployment until probably it reaches a level which it seems to me it must reach within the next 10 years, if we go on under existing conditions, where you will have a hard core of unemployment not of a figure round about 2,000,000, but possibly more like 4,000,000. Do the Government imagine for a moment that the masses of the working-classes of this country will sit down quietly under a prospect such as that? If those who are responsible for the Government of our country hope to see this problem solved in a peaceful and orderly manner, I suggest that some attention must be given, and given before very long, to this problem of reducing the hours of labour in order that there may be a reduction in the army of the unemployed, and not only so, but in order that there may be some reasonable prospect of employment for those who have yet to come along.
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
What always impresses me more than anything else in a Debate like this is the extraordinarily antediluvian notions of those who speak from the Labour benches. The same stale old fallacies which I' used to hear when I was an apprentice at the bench can now be heard no longer in active industry, but only from the Labour benches in this House. It is quite easily seen how that happens. The system of election prevailing in the Labour move- 504 ment is such that it is only those who are completely out of date who succeed in getting safe seats in this House. I venture to say that what has been put forward from the Labour benches to-night would be repudiated with scorn by the more active spirits in the trade unions at the present day. I think I have had more experience of the working of short hours in industry than anyone else in this country. I was apprenticed to a great firm more years ago than I care to remember, and that firm were the first in the engineering industry to adopt the 48-hour week, and to do away with that period of work before breakfast which was one of the great grievances, and a legitimate grievance, of the working-people of those days.
I well remember that the reduction of the hours of work from 54 or 56 to 48 did not have a profound effect. Means were taken to secure that these shorter hours should be better occupied in the works and the discipline was much more severe. After years of experience of the 48-hour week, the heads of the firm came to the conclusion that as long as theirs was the only firm in the industry working shorter hours, it was an economical advantage to them, but they doubted whether they would get any advantage if everybody in the district adopted it too. When I set up in industry on my own account, I started with the 48-hour week, and when the hours were subsequently reduced in the rest of the industry to 47, I went to 44. I say without any ulterior motive that I am inclined to think that if everyone else in my particular district were to go on to the 44-hour week, I should find my production would fall off very considerably compared with what it is now when everybody else is on 47 hours. I am merely giving these facts for the consideration of the House and I do not attempt to make any deductions from them in respect of this Motion.
The other point about which I would like to give the benefit of experience is this. I agree with miner Members that the coal-mining industry is ultra mechanised and that the capital expended on the mechanisation of our coal pits has in many instances gone far beyond what is economically justified. Quite apart from that, even if colliery owners had kept the mechanisation of their pits within reasonable bounds, I should like to ask hon. Members what 505 has brought about the mechanisation. Surely it is the fixing of wages and hours of work by Statute that has produced the mechanisation of the pits. The natural reaction in industry to conditions of labour, wages and hours of work imposed on it, particularly when they are imposed by Statute, is to increase mechanisation. Take the case of privately owned concerns such as my own has been until recently. There again, the proprietor does not want to see his profits go in buying machinery of the most elaborate sort and to throw his men out of work. He wants to have a steamer or a big motor car; he does not want his profits to go begging in the purchase of elaborate automatic machinery. Hon. Members can take it as definite that if an industry mechanises and spends huge capital sums on complicated machinery whose only object is to throw men out of work, the reason is that the industry can only survive by that means for, if you do not mechanise your industry and throw your men out of work, you will go into bankruptcy.
In my own works a number of years ago we had ordinary lathes on which each man produced to the best of his ability. These lathes were gradually replaced by elaborate capstan and combination lathes whereby one man was able to do as much work as five or six did on the ordinary type. Hon. Members of the Labour party, I am sure, will not accuse me of taking any delight in seeing my men sacked. Most of them live in the village along with me, and it is no pleasure to me to take steps to sack my men. Quite apart from that, on purely selfish grounds, I should much rather have a few thousand pounds to spend on my own selfish pleasures than to spend on capstan lathes. Mechanisation is caused by one thing only, and that is conditions being imposed on the industry which industry is not in a position to meet. These are things which have been under my constant observation and within my own personal experience within the last 30 years.
Surely the whole problem before us is not how to raise the wage rate of the individual man in industry, but how to devise means for paying week by week a larger aggregate amount of wages to the workers of this country. I maintain—and this is where I am at issue with my hon. Friends above the Gangway—that in 506 certain industries a lower wage rate for the individual would mean a greater aggregate of wages paid in that industry. The whole unemployment problem depends on the reduction of the amount of money paid for no return and the increase in the aggregate amount of wages paid in return for some substantial production. The problem of unemployment and of hours is the raising of the aggregate amount that is paid week by week to the whole of the workers of the country. The policy of the Labour party, and until recent years the policy of the trade unions, has been most unfortunate in that respect. They have endeavoured, by raising individual wage rates and raising hours, to make it better for the individual trade unionist, with the inevitable result that they have reduced the aggregate of wages payable and that a very large number of people are permanently out of employment. Even the man who is in employment does not benefit, because where does the money for unemployment pay come from? It comes out of the pockets of the productive workers of industry. Therefore, the policy of attempting to get artificial wage rates does not benefit the men in industry.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ Mr. VIANT
The hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson) has introduced an aspect of the subject which has not hitherto been touched this afternoon. I feel sure that none of us on this side will be prepared to agree with him that the objective should be only to raise the aggregate wages paid in a given industry. We have to consider first whether the wage that is being paid is adequate for the maintenance of the individual worker. There might be a good aggregate wage in an industry, but the wage per individual might not even be adequate for his maintenance. This condition obtains in many industries to-day. Hence the reason for our being prepared to support a convention for the 40-hour week, provided the present wage standard is maintained. We cannot afford to entertain any further reduction of wages, which in many instances are far too low.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
That is exactly what I meant by the antediluvian fallacy of hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House.
§ Mr. VIANT
We cannot afford to accept the antediluvian theories and arguments of the hon. Gentleman. His argument would take us back to a standard of living enjoyed by the savages. We must have some regard for the recognised standards of to-day. They have been tenaciously fought for, great sacrifices have been made for them, and we must safeguard them at all costs. As an individualist, the hon. Member holds tenaciously to his point of view that he must be permitted to reduce the hours of labour in his factory in order to attract the best type of labour, but he prays at the same time that the same policy will not be adopted by other employers in the industry. That is arguing for himself alone, and the argument does not hold water. If it be good for him and for the employés in his factory, we are prepared to accept those conditions for the rest of the workers in the industry. That is what we are arguing for this afternoon.
I was disappointed at the reply of the Parliamentary Secretary. We are prepared to admit the difficulties that exist, but we were entitled to expect from him not a reinforcement of the negative attitude taken up by the Government in their replies issued in the Command Paper; we were entitled to expect, as a result of the Debate to-day, that he would be prepared to accept the suggestions of his hon. Friend, the Member for Stretford (Mr. Crossley), who asked that some data should be provided by the International Labour Office whereby a workable convention might be drawn up. The hon. Member offered suggestions as to the essential data required. Had we had a promise of that kind, we should have been inclined to be a little more optimistic, but nothing of the kind has been offered. The Government are taking up a definite negative attitude to this question.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD
I regard this Debate strictly as a Private Member's Debate. Therefore, I think it is desirable that the Government speaker should apply himself directly to the specific point at issue in the Motion. That is what I tried to do with the object of not taking up more time than was necessary. I took a great deal of note of what my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford (Mr. Crossley) said, but I 508 did not enter into a discussion on those questions because I wanted to deal with the specific subject of the Motion.
§ Mr. VIANT
The purpose of these Motions and the purpose of introducing a Private Member's Bill is not only to discuss the merits of the Motion or the Bill, but to elicit from the Government the policy that they intend to adopt in regard to the principle involved. The principle in this Motion is most important and we were at least entitled to expect some lead from the Government in respect to it. The White Paper leaves us cold. It is purely negative, and is indicative of the attitude of the Government towards this subject. The subject is of too much importance to warrant a negative reply such as we have received this afternoon. At the present moment we are experiencing a reduction in the number of unemployed, but no one can forecast how long that is likely to continue. Employment may for the time being be inflated as a result of the armaments policy of the Government. But improvements in machinery, technique and organisation must tend to increase the numbers of the unemployed.
If we suffered a reduction of wages consequent on a reduction in the hours of labour, we should be thereby intensifying the possibilities of further unemployment. In so far as you reduce the purchasing power of the masses, so you increase the number of unemployed. That is inevitable; it is an economic law that cannot be denied. We stand first and foremost for the retention of the present standard of living aid wage standards for that reason alone. Have the Government given any consideration, has the Ministry of Labour given any consideration, to meeting the possible increase in the unemployed in the near future? This is a subject which should be engaging the full attention of the House. I rather regret that there hive not been more Members present this afternoon to consider this all-important subject. If there is one thing more than another which is likely to bring civilisation down, it is this increasing problem of unemployment, which is inevitably bound up with improvements in machinery and technique. A subject of this kind is worthy of the consideration of the whole House and the Minister of Labour should be giving a lead. There is no better lead than a 509 reduction of the hours of labour. The question of international competition has been raised. That was argued in this House when the Factory Acts were introduced. It has been argued in this House on every occasion when methods have been proposed for shortening the hours of labour or improving the conditions of the workers.
§ Mr. CROSSLEY
The hon. Member would not pretend that there is any analogy between the situation now with regard to the export trades and the situation at any time before the War?
§ Mr. VIANT
I was not arguing that; I was arguing the general attitude of Members on the other side of the House on these questions, and more especially when measures are introduced for reducing the hours of labour. I happen to be one who has taken part in trade union negotiations. I can well remember in the industry with which I am associated arguing for a reduction of an hour a day, and I can hear mentally the replies of the employers "It is only in that hour of the day that we make any profits, if we make any profits at all." All these arguments have been used in the past. We are asking for a lead on the subject of this Convention from the Ministry of Labour. They have given no lead this afternoon. They have simply put up the difficulties. I admit that hon. Members were kind enough to offer them suggestions. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will give them due consideration and that when the Ministry of Labour send their delegate to the next conference of the International Labour Office he will go briefed, not with such a negative reply as is outlined in the White Paper, but with a request for data which are essential in order that a workable convention can be drawn up.
I want to pass to another aspect of the subject. No one with a knowledge of the industrial world to-day can help but be appalled at the manner in which overtime is being worked. You will hear the workmen themselves and employers also saying that they wish there were a law to prohibit the working of overtime. Unfortunately to-day when one employer refuses to put his employés on overtime, he is informed by those for whom he is doing the work that if he is not pre- 510 pared to work overtime the work will be taken elsewhere. I remember that the Prime Minister, when he spoke on this subject last year, made an appeal to employers not to work their employés on overtime. But an appeal is of no use whatever. We want a law prohibiting the working of overtime, with reasonable exceptions. Already in some well-organised industries they have made a law for themselves and, in conjunction with the employers, committees have been set up laying down the condition generally that overtime is not permissible, with certain exceptions. Representatives of the employers and of the trade unions meet and decide on the merits of a request as to whether overtime shall be permitted or not. In many instances that has meant putting into employment a considerable number of men who would otherwise be unemployed. It is a method which should receive the endorsement of this House and the encouragement of the Ministry of Labour. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will make a note of this and let it be widely known, and that he will encourage the prohibition of overtime wherever possible.
But we must look forward and entertain the idea of passing some form of legislation which will prohibit overtime and thereby place all employers and employés on the same footing. Numbers of trade unions have found that many of their members have been working overtime not for 50 hours but 60, 70 and 80 hours per week, and they have had to work that overtime week after week and month after month, with the inevitable result that their health has been impaired, and they have eventually had to go on to the sick pay of their union and the sickness benefit of the National Health Insurance. That is uneconomic from the point of view of both the employer and the State, and we should be prepared to consider the position and the need for shortening the hours of labour in this regard. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will give consideration to these questions and that he will point out the ill effects of overtime and the reasons why we must retain the present standard of wages and yet take steps which will reduce the hours of labour, if we are going to avoid the catastrophe which must eventually overtake us as a result of the mechanisation and organisa- 511 tion which are taking place in industry at the present time.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Mr. LESLIE
The Mover and Seconder of the Amendment were of opinion that legislation was not the best way of dealing with a question of this kind. But they ought to bear in mind the fact that this is an international question and that the only way you can deal with it is by legislation. They were afraid also that other countries would not carry it out if it were adopted. But they ought to know that many conventions have been ratified by other countries, translated into legislation, and are being carried out very effectively at the present time. That there is a need for international agreement over labour questions cannot be gainsaid. It is only by international agreement that unfair competition can be checked and friction between the nations obviated, and the work of the International Labour Office has been of immense value. It has created a network of labour treaties setting up a standard of life in many countries which hitherto was thought impossible. One hears so much about unfair foreign competition and the need for tariffs that one wonders why British employers and the British Government have been so lukewarm and even in direct opposition to any attempt at Geneva for the regulation of working hours.
I happened to be at Geneva last June when this question was under discussion. The majority of the employers there refused to play the game. They refused to go into committee to discuss the pros and cons of the case, and as a result of their attitude there was very scathing condemnation by representatives of other Governments. The most scathing of all came from the representative of the United States. He characterised them as Rip Van Winkles. He said that the arguments that they used would have been advanced at the end of the eighteenth century; the arguments were not new; they were recited in the House of Lords when the first Bill for the reduction of hours was before that body. At Geneva this Government employed delaying tactics, willing to wound but afraid to strike. During the past four years the British Government have never sent a responsible Minister to Geneva, but always a civil servant with instructions, 512 apparently, either to oppose or to remain quiescent. It is good to know that the present Minister of Labour has decided to attend Geneva when the International Labour Organisation is dealing with this question next June.
We have an unemployment problem, and the trade union and Labour movement think a reduction of hours would to some extent mitigate the evil. Some employers think, however, that a reduction of hours would not assist, because reorganisation would take place and new inventions would be introduced to replace labour. That may be true, but our case is that scientific devices should not be used merely as wage-saving devices but as labour-saving in the real sense, reducing the working hours. If a machine is introduced with which one man can do the work of 100 there are 99 potential consumers of the product of the machine who have not the wherewithal to purchase. What will the end be? In my own opinion Capitalism contains within itself the germs of its own destruction. I am glad to know that some firms are not afraid to risk shorter hours.
The firm of the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) has introduced a 40-hour week and a five-day week, and it may interest other hon. Members to know what other countries have done. In Czechoslovakia 750 factories have a 40-hour week, and in 1,500 factories they work less than 40 hours a week. France has restricted overtime in vital industries, whereas in this country we see some men working almost all the hours that God sends, while others are walking the streets vainly searching for employment. The United States of America, by raising the age of entry into industry to 16, which ought to be done in this country, and reducing the hours in certain industries to 35, in others to 40, and yet others to 45, and, in the case of the distributive trades, to 44 or 48 hours, was able to absorb nearly 4,000,000 unemployed. Australia is considering a 30-hour week. Scandinavia is well on the way to instituting a 40-hour week. Belgium has a 40-hour week on the Government programme; and Ireland has a Bill to reduce hours.
If it be the case that the Government are really in favour of reducing hours, and that the only objection hitherto has been the effect of foreign competition, let 513 me deal with domestic occupations where no foreign complications arise. In 1931 a Select Committee was appointed to deal with the conditions of shop assistants, and it was unanimous in recommending a 48-hour week for young persons under 18. The Government introduced legislation last year, but not for 48 hours but 52, with 50 hours per annum of unpaid overtime. The 48-hour week will not come into operation until the end of this year. The Government declined to implement the recommendation of that committee with respect to adult workers. The committee recommended a 48-hour week, but the Government took no action.
When a Bill was introduced by the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) to give effect to the recommendation, what was the Government's attitude? They said, first, that the 48-hour week would create unemployment. It is a new theory that by reducing hours we create more unemployment. There are multiple firms to-day which are understaffed and employ their assistants for hours after the shops have been closed, and we think that a reduction of hours to 48 a week would mean that the shops would have to be properly staffed, and that that would absorb some of the 300,000 distributive workers at present unemployed. The second objection put forward by the Government was that it would reduce wages. Wages are largely regulated by competition in the labour market, and if a reduction of hours reduced the numbers of those competing for jobs we should have no fears for wages.
As it is, wages are so low that decent firms are calling upon the Government to set up a trade board to protect them from wage-cutting and price-cutting firms. The third objection from the Government was that it would mean an increase in the price of commodities. Evidence was submitted to the Select Committee that firms operating the 48-hour week charged no more for their commodities than firms where the 60-hour week, or longer, was in operation. At one time it was the proud boast of this country that it led the world in social legislation. I am afraid that boast can be made no longer, after what has been happening at Geneva in the past four years. The latest decision of the Government on the 40-hour week shows what a deplorable position this country now occupies, and I hope that 514 this Debate may make the. Government reconsider their attitude and that it may therefore not be without results. If the Parliamentary Secretary feels that things are not altogether what they ought to be why did not the Government assist instead of hindering at Geneva?
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Mr. BANFIELD
I was very much disappointed that the Parliamentary Secretary did not give us some idea of the Government's policy on hours. It is easy for him to say, "The Convention does not appeal to us. It has difficulties and it has dangers." But I want to put to him the conditions existing in a trade like my own, the baking trade. He and his Department know the scandalously long hours that men are working—anything up to 80 hours a week. Thousands of men are working 65 or 70 hours a week. On the other hand, great numbers of the men are unemployed. What are the Government proposing to do to stop overwork on the one hand and unemployment on the other? There is no question of overtime here. The men are paid no overtime. They work all the hours that God sends and their health suffers. What applies in that industry applies to millions of men and women in other industries. It is no use the Parliamentary Secretary saying, "I am in favour of voluntary negotiations." There are only 4,000,000 workers in the trade unions; 10,000,000 are unorganised, and, in the main, are at the mercy of their employers. In many industries, particularly the light industries, there are no regular hours and no overtime rates. Side by side with that state of affairs we have 2,000,000 unemployed. Surely the Government cannot neglect this matter very much longer.
I have considered this question ever since the Washington Convention. I was on the Committee set up by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) to consider hours of labour. Every Government knows in its heart that further legal restriction of the hours of labour must come sooner or later. Cannot I appeal to the Ministry to go into this matter and to make up its mind to produce a policy, to recognise that unrestricted hours of labour cannot be continued much longer. They are now carrying on consultations with the trade unions, and incidentally, I may say to 515 the hon. Member who moved the Amendment that the Government have all the information on this matter, both national and international that they require, and surely the time has come when a conclusion should be reached. To-day the Government had an opportunity of putting forward some policy. If they have no policy then, I say it with all due respect, more shame to them. If they tell the country they have no policy on this question of hours I believe the country will be thoroughly disgusted, because the
§ country is no more satisfied than we are that millions of money should be paid out to men who are unemployed and want only a chance—they would go on their knees for it—to get work and wages. Surely the problem is serious enough to command the earnest attention of the Minister at this time.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 119; Noes, 160.517
|Division No. 106.]||AYES.||[7.29 p.m.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Groves, T. E.||Quibell, J. D.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)|
|Ammon, C. G.||Hardie, G. D.||Riley, B.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Ritson, J.|
|Attlee, Bt. Hon. C. R.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Banfield, J. W.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Rowson, G.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Hicks, E. G.||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Barr, J.||Holland, A.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Batey, J.||Hollins, A.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Bellenger, F.||Hopkin, D.||Shinwell, E.|
|Broad, F. A.||Jagger, J.||Short, A.|
|Brooke, W.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Silverman, S. S.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Simpson, F. B.|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Burke, W. A.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Cape, T.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Chater, D.||Kirby, B. V.||Stephen, C.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Lathan, G.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Compton, J.||Lawson, J. J.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Leach, W.||Thorne, W.|
|Daggar, G.||Lee, F.||Thurtle, E.|
|Dalton, H.||Leonard, W.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Leslie, J. R.||Vlant, S. P.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Logan, D. G.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Day, H.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Walker, J.|
|Dobble, W.||McEntee, V. La T.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||McGhee, H. G.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Ede, J. C.||MacLaren, A.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Marklew, E.||Whiteley, W.|
|Fletcher, U.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Mathers, G.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Frankel, D.||Maxton, J.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Gallacher, W.||Messer, F.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Milner, Major J.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Garro-Jones, G. M.||Montague, F.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Gibbins, J.||Morrison, R. C (Tottenham, N.)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Naylor, T. E.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Paling, W.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Potts, J.||Mr. Sorensen and Mr. Ellis Smith.|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W.||Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk N.)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Bralthwaite, Major A. N.||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W.||Briscoe, Capt, R. G.||Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Brockiebank, C. E. R.||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Crooke, J. S.|
|Assheton, R.||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.|
|Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Croom-Johnson, R. P.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Burghley, Lord||Cross, R. H.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Carver, Major W. H.||Cruddas, Col. B.|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Cary, R. A.||Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil)|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Cautley, Sir H. S.||Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)|
|Bainiel, Lord||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Duncan, J. A. L.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Channon, H.||Dunne, P. R R.|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Christie, J. A.||Eckersley, P. T.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Edmondsos, Major Sir J.|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Cobb, Sir C. S.||Ellis, Sir G.|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Colfox, Major W. P.||Elliston, G. S.|
|Emery, J. F.||Llddall, W. S.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Loder, Captain Hon. J. de V.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Evans. E. (Univ. of Wales)||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Everard, W. L.||Lumley, Capt. L. R.||Rowlands, G.|
|Fildes, Sir H.||MacAndrew, Lt.-Col. Sir C. G.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Findlay, Sir E.||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Fraser, Capt. Sir I.||McKle, J. H.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Savery, Servington|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.||Selley, H. R.|
|Gower, Sir R. V.||Magnay, T.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Mannlngham-Buller, Sir M.||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Guy, J. C. M.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Spender-Clay, Lt.-Cl. Rt. Hn. H. H.|
|Hannah, I. C.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Spens, W. P.|
|Harmon, Sir P. J. H.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Harbord, A.||Mitchell, H. (Brentlord and Chiswick)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Hepworth, J.||Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Holdsworth, H.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Hopklnson. A.||Munro, P.||Sutcliffe. H.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Nall, Sir J.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Hunter, T.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Jackson, Sir H.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Train, Sir J.|
|Joel, D. J. B.||Peake, O.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Penny, Sir G.||Turton, R. H.|
|Jones, L. (Swansea, W.)||Perkins, W. R. D.||Wakefield, W. w.|
|Kerr, Colonel C. l. (Montrose)||Petherick, M.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Pickthorn, K. W. M||Ward, Irene (Wallsend)|
|Klrkpatrick, W. M.||Pllkington, R.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||White, H. Graham|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Porritt, R. W.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Radford, E. A.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Leckie, J. A.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)"||Wise, A. R.|
|Lees-Jones, J.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Remer, J. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Levy, T.||Rickards, G. W. (Sklpton)||Mr. Crossley and Mr. Furness.|
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ 7.38 p.m.