HC Deb 11 November 1936 vol 317 cc893-957

3.48 p.m.


I beg to move, That, as a means of enabling the worker to benefit from the increased productivity of modern industry, and as one method of absorbing the unemployed whose numbers will otherwise be multiplied when the present trade revival is exhausted, a substantial reduction in working hours is urgently necessary; and this House regrets that His Majesty's Government have repeatedly resisted definite proposals for this reform. In March last this question was debated on a Motion in a slightly different form. On that occasion the Government reply was given by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour. He discharged his duty with his usual fair-mindedness and fairness, but I sincerely hope he will not misunderstand me when I say that I hope the Minister of Labour himself will reply for the Government today. We feel that this is a question that ought to be dealt with by the Minister himself. It is one of those questions that we cannot allow to be dealt with as has been done in the past, by a permanent official of the Department at Geneva and in this House by the Parliamentary Secretary. In March the Motion was defeated though, strange to say, only some 25 per cent. of the House voted against it. In the Debate that we had, more than 60 per cent. of the speeches were in favour. I am hoping that to-night we shall find the ratio reversed. I hope that 60 per cent. of the votes will be given in the Lobby for the Motion, and I will allow for 25 per cent. of the speeches being against the Motion. It may be necessary to remind the House that this is a very vital question at the moment. I should have been very pleased to have seen on the Front Bench opposite a representative of the Home Office. Very long hours are now being worked in the factories and workshops of this country and it is a disgrace to this country. I am sorry that no one from the Home Office is present, but I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour will be good enough to convey to them what we have to say relative to the work with which they directly deal. I have here the Annual Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops for the year 1935, and I intend reading one or two paragraphs which give some outrageous cases of long hours. On page 66 of the report it says: Many of the complaints received about long hours are found on investigation to relate to the hours worked by men. Very long hours are often worked, and complainants are sometimes surprised to hear that there are no legal restrictions. In a small flour mill men were working regularly 7 a.m.-8 p.m. In a rubber works a shift of 7 a.m.-8 p.m. was being worked daily, while in the finishing department of a silk works the men had been employed 80 hours a week when on the day shift and 72 hours when on the night shift. I notice the name of the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Crossley) attached to the Amendment, and no doubt he will be ready for the next paragraph. I am thankful to the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department for having now presented himself at the Front Bench. A firm of cotton spinners employed women and young persons in their winding department for periods up to 71 hours in a week as compared with 55½ allowed by law, and the 48 usually worked by trade agreement. The case was aggravated by the fact that insufficient meal times were allowed and continuous spells up to 6¾ hours worked. I intend to give one or two further cases to the Under-Secretary, as I hold that he and his staff have some responsibility for this condition of affairs. I agree that the inspectors have been round and have instituted prosecutions in some cases, but I am inclined to think that the inspectorate is not sufficiently strong in numbers. I have no complaint whatever to find with regard to the work the inspectors are doing when on the job. Here is another case for the benefit of the Under-Secretary: Another case of systematic illegal employment of boys between 14 and 18 years of age over a long period was discovered in a large furniture factory. For some time they had been employed from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday to Friday"— Thirteen hours every day, and no wonder one hears about the need of an A1 nation— 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays, with occasional early evenings when individual boys were allowed to leave at 5.30 p.m. or 7 p.m. In some cases boys had worked from 8 a.m. till 10 or 11 p.m., and one boy aged 14 had been dismissed for refusing to work until 9 p.m. One could go on reading from this document, which was sent out by the Home Office. I cannot quite understand the Amendment which is on the Order Paper. I am inclined to think that those who have framed the Amendment are unaware of this document. They seem to want to impress upon the House that the Government have done all that is expected, and that they do not expect them to deal with the question of long hours. I imagine that they are thinking about Geneva, and Geneva only. What is happening at Geneva on the question of hours is very important, and I shall refer to it later. I want to tell the Under-Secretary that in workshops and factories the Government have a direct responsibility of seeing that illegal and unreasonably long hours are not worked. We hold the Home Office largely responsible for what is happening inside the workshops and factories of this country. Those in support of the Amendment are trying to tell us that the Government are deserving of some compliments for their activities in connection with the question of long hours. The question naturally is why do we want shorter hours of labour, and how can we get them? I know that on the question of shorter hours of labour we are generally agreed. Even those responsible for the Amendment, because of the very place in the Motion at which they have introduced it, show quite clearly that they themselves desire to see shorter hours of labour.

I want to give three reasons why the hours of labour ought to be shorter. The first is because it will increase the leisure of the workers. I lay stress upon this because there was a time when those interested in industry were doubtful whether long hours of leisure were a good thing for the workers of this country, and whether they would abuse it and it would prove harmful. I shall be surprised if any Member supporting the Government were to advance such an argument to-day. We in this House know the value of leisure, especially those of us who in the years gone by were very busy during the daytime in industry, and very busy in the evenings in some other way. I am not suggesting that we have not plenty with which to occupy our time in the House of Commons, but our life, compared with that which some of us lived in the years gone by, is, comparatively speaking, a life of leisure. We know that the value of any social reform is determined very largely by the extent to which it enables the human being to enjoy his leisure; by the extent it provides him with leisure and the means to enjoy his leisure. I shall be told that increased productivity has bestowed benefit upon the worker. It has, and I should be the last to deny it. The worker has enjoyed certain benefits in consequence of increased productivity. I believe mechanisation has been a good thing for the worker in many directions and is essential to industry, but I have yet to be convinced that, whatever it may have done to improve some of his conditions and his wages, as it has done in some cases, it has done a great deal to improve his hours. The acid test of any social reform is that it ultimately enables the worker to enjoy longer leisure, and to enjoy it in a better way.

My second reason is that I am satisfied that shorter hours of labour would mean increased efficiency in industry. To-day —and no one knows better than the hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman), who I am very pleased to see present—workers in the mining industry are working at a terrific pace. The strain on the nervous system is tremendous, and no worker in that industry can last very long as a fit person unless there is something done to shorten his hours of labour. A short time ago a miners' agent in the Scottish Miners Federation, in dealing with this question, made this statement: What do I find in consultation and in conversation with medical men in the colliery areas? One who is a very conscientious medical man, and who has practised in a mining community for 30 years, told me that he was surprised that young men at an age when least expected have dilated hearts and other ailments as a result of the terriffic strain that has been set up by this intensive production. In my opinion the reduction of working hours would result in the workers becoming more efficient. There are those in the House who know the coal industry as well as those of us on this side who claim to know it. We know that the rates of accidents and the incidence of nystagmus have fluctuated with the length of the working day. I ask any one who has intimate knowledge of the coal industry whether he would argue that a shorter working day would not result in fewer cases of nystagmus, whether more fresh air, more ease and more leisure would not enable a miner to give better results than he gives in his work to-day? I have here some figures which show what is happening in the industry. The percentage of coal produced and cut by machinery in 1913 was 8.5; in 1929 it was 27.9, and in 1935 it was 51. Let me give the figures of tonnage. In 1913 it was 24.4 million tons, in 1929 it was 72 million tons, and in 1935 it was 113.3 million tons. Note the difference between 1913 and 1929, a period of only 16 years. We have something like 19 per cent, increase in mechanisation. Between 1929 and 1935, six years, we have 24 per cent. increase in mechanisation. This sort of thing is continuing. I ask those who are to support the Amendment on the Paper, how long do they think that this rate of mechanisation in the industry can continue without some reduction of working hours and at the same time avoid a tremendous discharge of men from this industry? I have some figures of employment here. Those employed in the industry in 1913 were 1,129,870; in 1929 they were 969,736; in 1935 they were 779,502.


Can the hon. Member give the increase in mechanisation in industries other than the coal industry?


A reduction of 200,000 men in six years is the result almost directly of mechanisation. What I ask is, as that has happened in six years what is to happen in the future? I am asked a question about other industries. In this House we have men who represent different industries on both sides. I have dealt with mining first because I have intimate knowledge of that industry. But I have here also some figures for the motor-car industry. In a certain company in 1922 55 men occupied a week in making a car. In 1935 the work was done by seven men. That is to say that 28 men, or roughly 80 per cent. fewer men, were required to make a car in 1935 than were required in 1922. I want to know how long this sort of thing is to continue.


It would help matters if the hon. Gentleman could give his explanation in man-hours.


This is a very human question and for the hon. Gentleman to try to bring in some intricate forms is not fair. I know that the legal mind can find complications in all these questions, but I hope that on this, the first day for private Members' Motions, we are not going to be launched into intricacies and complications on this very human question. My point is that not only would shorter hours give more leisure and result in more efficient workers, but it would be some contribution to a solution of the unemployment problem. I have no desire to exaggerate that point, for I have often felt that there have been exaggerations. In comments by the International Labour Office I see it suggested that a reduction of hours to a 40 hours week would mean an increase of 10 per cent. in the number of those employed. I consider that the three reasons I have given are sufficient to convince the House that something ought to be done on the hours question. If something is not done I fail to see what the future has for us.

I put this further point to the Minister; We are hoping that the making of armaments is not going on for ever. We on this side have no opposition whatever to the provision of all the armaments requisite to safeguard the interests of our country. But the making of armaments is not going on for ever; and, whatever Conservative Members may think, the present improvement in industry in this country is to a large extent a boom. We all know that the slump will come in due course. I ask the Minister to tell us in clear terms what preparation is being made by the Government to meet that slump when it comes? The Government may feel proud that to-day the number of the unemployed is substantially decreased, but the Minister knows that a day will dawn before many years are over when the number will rise again. We consider that there is a responsibility resting on the Government to make plans and prepare for the increased unemployment which will come. Nothing better could be done than along the lines laid down in the Motion that I have moved.

I hope that the Under-Secretary for the Home Office will tell us quite frankly what the Government intend to do. Do they intend to go on simply with the present programme or have they definite plans prepared to meet the emergency when it arises? We consider that the proposals outlined in the Motion would be some contribution towards meeting the difficulty when it does arise. I hope that the Under-Secretary will be as frank with the House as he usually is. How can what we propose be carried out? If there is a division of opinion in the House it seems to be as to the practicability of the suggestion. Can the proposal be carried out and can we at the same time safeguard the standard of life of the workers? It is not at all wise to avoid the difficulties raised by any question. Reducing working hours is a difficult problem. As an assembly we are agreed, I believe, that it ought to be done if it can be done. Those who will support the Amendment could quite rightly put the question to me, in what way do I suggest that it should be done?

In referring to the Under-Secretary have mentioned a domain over which his Department has some control, and it is in that domain that much could be done. I put it forward as a practical suggestion that the Government, through the Home Office, can do a great deal to reduce the hours of employment in this country. They did bring in legislation to deal with boys and young persons working in shops, and I complimented them on their action. The Under-Secretary knows that the tendency to-day is for employers in shops to employ adult labour because in their case there is no restriction of hours. We know that there are closing hours for shops but that provision does not restrict hours of work. The tendency of employers is to employ adults for extraordinarily long hours. My first suggestion is that in the factories and workshops of the country the Home Office can do a great deal to reduce the hours of work.

I know that when one puts forward what one regards as constructive suggestions there is a tendency to doubt one's good faith. I have no desire to score party points, for if there is any question that is not a party question it is this question. I have not moved my Motion for party purposes. I have moved it to deal with a real difficulty. My first suggestion is that the Home Office should discharge its responsibilities. I am not sure how far the Under-Secretary will be able to deal with some of the questions I raise, but he can get information from elsewhere. The Government itself is a big employer of labour. The Trades Union Congress has tried to get the Government to realise its responsibilities to the people it, employs. On 26th May last the Joint Council of the Trades Union Congress and representatives of the Amalgamated Engineering Union interviewed the Prime Minister and requested him to introduce the 40 hours week in all Government establishments. The Prime Minister expressed his sympathy with the idea of a shorter working week, but promised no more than to go carefully into the representations made to him. I ask the Under-Secretary to enlighten us further to-day. There has been a good stretch of time for the Prime Minister to do his thinking, and I know that when the right hon. Gentleman has thought and decided on his policy that will be the policy of the Government. I am anxious to know how far the Prime Minister's thinking has gone. Can the Under-Secretary say definitely whether his right hon. Friend is prepared to do something to reduce the hours of work of those employed by the Government?

Here is another suggestion: As we know, we shall be told as trade unionists, why not try agreements? We shall be told that the employers are there and that the workers are there, and why cannot they come to some agreement? I admit that in the past agreements between employers' and workers' organisations have brought about a reduction of hours, but I want legislation on this question now because further agreements are not forthcoming between employers and workmen. Before the Government tell us, employers and workers, to get together, we have a right to ask the Government to help us. Trade union activity has resulted in a shorter working day for the workers but we are finding to-day that that activity is not sufficient. That is why we come and ask for legislation which will make the securing of a shorter working day much easier than it can be as a result of trade union activity. This House has a responsibility for the well-being of the people of this country. I hope, therefore, that the Under-Secretary will be able to give us some explanation as to where the Prime Minister stands now regarding the requests made to him.

There is an international aspect to this question, and it is there that we find great difficulty. The supporters of the Amendment are anxious to put in a bit of whitewashing, but I do not believe that one of those hon. Members feels in his heart that he can compliment the Government on their activities in regard to this question. I appreciate their loyalty to their own Government and their anxiety by compliments to urge them to do more—in so far as that method is good, I do not mind—but I cannot believe that any one of them is satisfied with what the Government have done at Geneva on this subject. The international problem in regard to hours is more difficult than the home problem. We must have regard to the international difficulty, and my complaint against the Government is that they have not taken the initiative on this question at the meetings of the International Labour Office. Whenever any individual or any government has taken the initiative, our Government have tended to find reasons for not supporting it. If the Under-Secretary can show us that no Government could have done more than this Government has done at Geneva, he will surprise me.

My complaint is that in all that I have read about the proceedings at Geneva I have felt ashamed, not because it was a Conservative Government but because it was a Government representing the British people who were making it difficult to get any international agreement on the question of hours. It may be thought that Ministers are too busy to attend, and that is the reason why they send a member of their Department. No one has more regard for Mr. Leggett than we have in Lancashire, because he has done much for the cotton industry, but we would prefer that the Minister went to Geneva to put the Government case. Although it is known that Mr. Leggett speaks for the British Government, we know that the presence of the Minister of Labour putting the same case would be a very different thing. It would show the Government's regard for the International Labour Organisation. The last thing that I would wish to do would be to say one word belittling Mr. Leggett, but I do not think that he is the right person to represent this country at Geneva on this vital question. It is an indication of the lack of interest taken by this Government in dealing with this question. Some of the other nations attached to the International Labour Office have done more than this country. I am not saying that in all the nations that have done anything the workers are enjoying the same standard of life as the workers of Great Britain. I still believe that this is the finest country in the world to live in, not because of, but in spite of, the Conservative Government.

An Act has been passed by the French Government, which came into operation this month, which is well worth consideration. I do not think that the French people are more interested than the British people in the welfare of their workers. The British people, especially those outside this House, are anxious that the workers of the country should enjoy as good conditions as the workers of any country. Let me refer again to the mining industry. On the 1st of this month the hours of work in France for miners were reduced to 38 hours 40 minutes, without any reduction in wages. In France there is a substantial reduction of the working week. The working day of the French miner is now 10 per cent. less than that of the British miner. If the French Government can do things like that, why cannot the British Government? We have the best coal in the world, the best miners, we have employers as good as those of any other country, and we have a mining industry equal to that of any other country. If that can be done in France, why not here The French Government took the initiative, and I want to know why His Majesty's Government do not take the initiative.

I have tried to make my case with the utmost moderation and I want all those who oppose us, whether by way of the cutely-drafted Amendment or some other way, to tell the House and the country whether they think the working day of the British worker ought to be reduced. Are the Government in favour of reducing the hours of labour in this country or are they opposed to it? Any reply may need qualification. I do not mind the qualification if I can get a clear answer that the Government are prepared to support the policy of reducing the hours of labour. I fail to see any effective way of dealing with the industrial and economic troubles of this country if we disregard the question of reducing the hours of labour. It is because I cannot see any other way that I am so anxious that the House should face up to the question. It is a difficult and thorny problem, and certainly there are complications, but it can be dealt with, and I hope that the Minister will tell us quite frankly what the Government attitude is towards the question.

We have been reminded to-day of the million gallant men who gave their lives for this country. They gave their lives thinking that that great sacrifice would be in the interests of the people of Britain. I know of no better way of showing respect for those workers who gave their lives from 1914 to 1918 than for the Government and the House to pursue a policy which would bring more leisure to the workers who remain, and enable them to enjoy that leisure better than those who sacrificed their lives in the War.

4.25 p.m.


I beg to second the Motion, and I would ask the House to examine it in the tone and the spirit of the Mover. If so, we shall get good results from it. We always move an Amendment to the King's Speech, and naturally the Government supporters are up in arms against us and use all kinds of arguments to show that the present system is the best, and they do not give credence to what we say. I would ask them to-day to approach this matter without any feeling of antagonism. In listening to these Debates I have in mind the recent reply of the Minister of Labour, who was very trenchant in replying to us, but he had to admit that this country was behind in dealing with this matter. He blamed the scientists and inventors for having gone too far ahead, with the result that we were unable to keep pace with them. That was an admission that there was something lacking. Later, the Home Secretary, who met very heavy weather, admitted in his reply that if from these benches we could bring forward any suggestion for a solution, the Government would be prepared to consider it. This is one of the subjects that the House might well examine in no party spirit. In times of adversity we all come together to share the burdens and to face them, but it would appear that in times of plenty we cannot meet our responsibilities. It has been said that the time of plenty has covered a long period.

In trying to get to the foundation of this subject I have been looking up some records and I find that we have to go back to 1770 in our investigations on the subject. At that time a man named Newcomen invented the steam engine, which was improved upon by Watt at a later period. In 1798 Watt looked at his machine and said: "It is perfect, nobody can improve on that,' meaning that that was the last thing that could be accomplished. Within less than 100 years another type of machine improved on the invention of Watt. What has been the result of the great increase in mechanisation that has taken place? Professor Soddy has said that 4,000 per cent. increase in output has occurred within the last 200 years. That is the difficulty that confronts us, and the problem that we are putting before the House is so serious that we ask the House to help us to solve it.

Let us see how this mechanisation has acted on our people. In the mining industry inventions have come along with the result that man power has steadily decreased. At the present time in the mining industry only 700,000 men are wanted as against 1,200,000 some time ago. What are the figures for Lancashire? In the last five years the personnel in the mines of Lancashire has gone down by 10,000, while the output has increased. The output in 1931 of 65,000 men is more than equalled now by the output of 55,000 men. In the railway industry we find that in 1921 there were 735,000 employés, but last year the number was only 580,000, a reduction of 155,000, which goes to prove that all along the line displacement of men is going on. Therefore, the problem that we have to face is how we are going to meet the changing conditions. We say that one method is by reducing the hours of labour and that it can be done without any reduction in wages. That is fundamental. If there is a reduction in wages it follows that the workers will not be able to buy the goods which are produced. It must be understood that when we talk about reducing hours of work, we mean that there should be no reduction in pay.

It has been said that this matter should be left to the trade unions. That implies that if a deadlock occurs we must resort to strikes. I had thought that in our enlightened community this is one of the last things we should advocate. If we advocate shorter hours and the employers resist then we can only get it by means of strikes. That is why we are asking Parliament to help us in this matter. In addition, the trade unions command a membership of only 4,000,000, whereas in industry there are something like 14,000,000. The trade unions do not cover the whole field of industry, and although they might get some reduction of hours in trades which are organised, they will always have on their flank the 10,000,000 people who are not organised, and if these 10,000,000 are working longer hours it will give the employers an unanswerable argument against any reduction of hours. They will say, "How can we reduce hours and go into the same market where they are working longer hours?"

This proposal is also very important in relation to the unemployment problem. There has been a slight reduction in the number of unemployed. I have a pamphlet here sent out by the Tory party in order to counteract the propaganda we were making in my division. It admits that the number of unemployed in general engineering is about 42,000—I am giving round figures—iron and steel, 28,000; shipbuilding and ship repairing, 45,000; cotton, 67,000; woollen and worsted, 24,000; silk and artificial silk, 6,000; building, 109,000; coalmining, 190,000; motor vehicles, 19,000; electrical goods, 7,000, and it says that the total in all trades was 648,000. Whatever may happen, it is recognised that although there may be an improvement of trade there will always be left what is known as the hard core of unemployed which is estimated at 500,000. Is it right that we should look calmly on that? Ought we not to do something to meet that problem? I say that in the way suggested by this Motion we could remove some of those who are unemployed and give them a chance of earning their living. I may be asked, "How would you do it?" I say that we should examine some of the arduous industries in which long hours are worked. I have here a report drawn up by a medical officer who was asked to examine a number of men working in a deep mine in Lancashire. He says: This is a very deep mine—one of the deepest in Lancashire—the shaft being over 3,000 feet deep. The working place of these men is about 4,000 feet deep, the working temperature is very high, the average air temperature 96.87 F. dry bulb, and 79½ F. wet bulb; the water temperature 112 F. The roof is from 2 ft. 6 in. to 3 ft. high and the working atmosphere is very steamy. The men work quite naked except for a pair of clogs; water is continually oozing from the floor necessitating working in water. He goes on to say that it is impossible for these men to keep at their work longer than six months at a time, and that they are suffering from break-outs on the body. That is a matter which any intelligent Government would examine at once. Where men are working in very deep places I think an attempt should be made to reduce their working hours, because it would be of advantage to the community at large and would do something to ease the problem of unemployment. Such a reduction of hours would be a real benefit to the community. But there is no attempt by the Government in this direction. It is said that the question of costs would operate. I think there is something greater than the question of costs, and that is the working conditions of our people.

I want now to examine the Amendment. I confess that I find it very difficult to find anything in it to oppose. I have gone through it very carefully. The first part calls attention to the need for shorter hours of labour, a point on which I think we are agreed, as a means of enabling the worker to benefit from the increased productivity of modern industry. But I notice that the Amendment strikes out the words: and as one method of absorbing the unemployed. I should have thought that we were also agreed upon that. Then the Amendment says: and approves the action of His Majesty's Government in resisting proposals which would endanger the earnings of British workers. What is meant by the word "prosperity"? That is an important point. The question of prosperity does not apply to one particular industry. You must have in mind the nation as a whole, and what it means. Last night in the outer Hall I wandered among the people who were there, and the tragedy of the situation struck me very deeply. I asked myself, what is the difference between myself and the men who were assembled here? But for just a fortunate turn I should have been one of them appealing to the House of Commons for help. Have hon. Members realised what folly it is that we should have thousands of men who cannot get a job through no fault of their own, and that at a time of prosperity and great productivity we cannot utilise the benefits which modern methods have brought and so bring a feeling of good will among all citizens This is the kind of prosperity which the House should have in mind. It is not right—I am speaking to hon. Members opposite—that they should have in mind some individual firm and what it means to that firm if this proposal were applied to industry. We are here to consider what will benefit the whole nation, and we must ask ourselves whether such a change as we suggest will bring well-being to the nation. I say that it would.

Last night the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) talked about recruiting for the Army and asked how we could hope to get the recruits if when they had finished with the Army their career was blighted when they got back to civil life. Ought not that argument also to apply to the industrial worker? Has he not as much right to expect his share of work as everybody else? I would remind the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook that when a soldier comes out of the Army and takes on a job it means that a civilian is put out of work. Therefore, while I do not disagree with the argument of the right hon. Member, that work ought to be found for them, I say that it must not mean the displacement of civilians. In our state of society the civilian and the soldier are doing their duty to the community and both are entitled to recognition by the State. This can only be by his House providing work for them, and something might be done in the way suggested by the Motion. I know the difficulties in the matter, and if you asked me to bring forward a plan showing how it could be done profitably I admit that I could not do so. But we are appealing to the Government to examine this question. The Board of Trade, the Ministry of Labour and the Home Office should get together and devise some scheme by which those trades and industries which are being overworked might be able to reduce their working hours and thus reduce the number of unemployed in those trades. We are putting forward the Motion in the hope of arresting the attention of the House, and in a time of boasted prosperity this is an occasion when the House of Commons could really do something useful.

4.45 p.m.


I beg to move, in line 2, to leave out from "industry" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: hours of work should be reduced where-ever this can be done without detriment to the prosperity of the industry concerned, and approves the action of His Majesty's Government in resisting proposals which would endanger the earnings of British workers. I think there will be general agreement, broadly speaking, on the abstract proposition that has been so ably moved and seconded from the Opposition Benches. I think, too, there will be a general feeling that the case which the hon. Members put was stated with very great moderation. In fact, as regards the whole principle of reducing hours of work wherever it is possible, I do not think there is very much difference in the House. It is when one studies the problem and tries to satisfy oneself that the reduction of hours really will react to the benefit of the workers of this country, that disagreement arises.

I would like to take up one or two of the points made by the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. Macdonald). He said that hours should be shortened because, first, it would increase the leisure of the workers. I am certain there is not one hon. Member, whatever may be his party, who will not agree with that. The hon. Member said that, secondly, shorter hours of labour would mean increased efficiency in industry. Again, I am prepared to accept that, as will, I think, most of my colleagues on this side of the House. Lastly, the hon. Member said that the reduction of working hours would make some contribution to dealing with the unemployment problem. It is with the last of the reasons which the hon. Member gave that I have to quarrel—but I will refer to that later on. The hon. Member referred to the present boom in industry and to the question of armaments. It is true—I think hon. Members on this side are only too conscious of the fact—that a certain part of the revival which is taking place in this country to-day is due to the existence of the armaments programme, but I think that is by no means the sole or even the most important cause. I believe that the strides which have been made by British industry during the last three or four years have been due very largely to the efforts of the Government in restoring confidence, a psychological factor which is very often overlooked. I think the trade revival is based on a very sound foundation, and, although one dislikes being a prophet, I cannot agree with the proposition that in the course of the next two or three years there is likely to be a slump.

In analysing the problem of shorter working hours, there is one very obvious approach. We can take the point of view that, in order to give increased leisure to the workers so as to enable them to take advantage of the increased productivity of industry, we will reduce hours of labour and reduce wages. That is one approach to the problem, but it is not an approach which I or hon. Members on this side like, and I am certain it is not a method that would be approved of by the workers or, as I think has been made explicit, by the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker). Therefore, we are driven back to the second approach, that is to say, that there should be a reduction of working hours combined with the maintenance of wages. If that could be done, or if I felt for my part that it was possible, then, irrespective of party, I would support the Motion that has been moved; but I say frankly that I do not believe that shortened hours of labour, except in a few cases, would react to the advantage generally of the workers of this country.

The hon. Member who moved the Motion referred, as I had expected he would, to the position in France. He said that the 40-hour week bill had been carried there, and he specifically quoted the case of the mining industry. Unfortunately I am unable to follow him on the question of the mining industry, because that does not happen to be one of the subjects on which I am well-informed, but I would say, subject to correction, that only a very small percentage of the coal produced in France is for export. Surely that is one of the things that makes a vital difference. Secondly, I would observe that, although that measure has been carried through in France, too short a time has elapsed for it to be seen how it will work. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and in three or four years' time we shall be able to say whether that measure has failed or has been successful. Frankly, I am sceptical as to what the results will be. M. Blum, no doubt, thought he was well advised in bringing forward that bill, but personally I am apprehensive of its results, and I do not think many hon. Members would at the present moment care to say with any certainty what reactions it may have on M. Blum himself. Surely it is on the question of the costs of production that the whole matter turns. It is not possible to reduce hours of labour in this country—I am confining my remarks at the moment to the export industries—without putting up the costs of production, and if costs of production are increased, I cannot see how the reduction of hours will react to the advantage of the workers. Unfortunately—or fortunately—we in this country have been, and still are, dependent to a very large extent on the prosperity of our export industries. If costs of production in those industries are increased, they will lose their position in the neutral markets of the world.

I would like now to turn to another point which is rather wrapped up with this matter, and that is the question of the increased mechanisation which is taking place, with its reactions on employment and unemployment. I readily accept the proposition that in any particular industry or firm, and for a certain period, the introduction of labour-saving machinery will react to the detriment of the workers because people will be turned off; but having admitted that, I cannot accept, and I repudiate, the statement that the introduction of labour-saving machinery over a period of years and over the whole field of British industry is anything but a friend and ally of the workers of this country. Suppose, however, one accepts the validity of the argument that labour-saving machinery turns people out of employment—then, if hours of work are reduced, with a consequent increase in costs of production, one of the first things that the management of a firm or the industry will do is to try to introduce, if possible, labour-saving machinery which will offset the increased costs brought about by shortening hours. Therefore, on that assumption, new labour-saving machinery will turn more people out of work.

In dealing with the question of increased costs, I would like with very great sincerity to put to the hon. Members who moved and seconded the Motion the question as to what they would do if they were the managing directors of a company or group of companies and the Government came down on them and said, "Your workers are now working so many hours a week, and Parliament enacts that they shall not work more than 40 hours a week." It would be necessary for the hon. Members, as managing directors, to look for new ways in which to make economies. Perhaps they could make economies and perhaps they could not. If they could not, inevitably they would have to turn people out of work. That would be inevitable, whether they were working under a capitalist system of managing directors and boards of directors, or under a Socialist State as chairmen of management committees appointed by the Government.

To my mind there is only one way in which hours of work could be shortened without there being the prospect of a substantial increase in costs of production, and that would be by getting an international agreement. Although that was referred to by the Mover and Seconder of the Motion, there is nothing in the Motion about international agreements. Surely it is a very vital part of the problem that we should get an international agreement. It is here that I feel I differ from hon. Gentlemen opposite. They know very well that at the International Labour Conference last year, when the Draft Convention was under discussion, there were very great difficulties in the way of coming to a satisfactory agreement on the matter. Italy, which had attracted a great deal of the kudos in taking the initiative so far as the Convention was concerned, unfortunately, when it came to the question of inserting words that would satisfactorily ensure that the standard of living and the maintenance of wages was constant, refused to come in with us. That is a very vital point. It is true that in the actual wording the question was based upon the maintenance of the standard of living, but there was a great deal of difference between the maintenance of the standard of living and the maintenance of weekly wage rates. I regard it as essential that all countries should come in, should signify their willingness to join in the plan of reducing hours, and should definitely and explicitly state that where hours are reduced, wage rates will be maintained. Unfortunately, we have not got that. Therefore, if we were to adopt that proposal and maintain wage rates, and it was not done by other countries, surely hon. Members opposite realise the very great disadvantage at which it would put the export trades of this country.

There is one further point on which I would like to touch: it is a point which has already been touched upon by the Mover and Seconder of the Motion. Although I agree that there are occasions when it is desirable, and perhaps essential, that the Government should step in and regulate the conditions of work, the hours of work and wage rates —while I recognise that that has been done in the past and that there may be occasions when it will be desirable that it should be done in the future—I cannot agree that it is desirable for Parliament to prescribe for industry as a whole the hours of work and the wages that are to be paid. That, if I may say so, is the very negation of liberty and an interference with industry which is quite unwarranted. There is adequate machinery in this country for dealing with these questions. But, hon. Members opposite may say, even if such machinery exists, would it not be better for the Government to come in? My answer is, "No!" I think it is better for the representatives of the employers and of the employés—the trade unions—to come together in the first instance to discuss these questions and to conduct free negotiations in reference to an industry all the facts of which they have at their finger-tips. Should that means fail, then surely it would be time for the Government to come in. If, as the hon. Member for Leigh suggested there was the threat of a strike, for instance, then a case could be made out for Government intervention. But surely the first effort should be to deal with these matters by negotiation between the trade unions and the representatives of the employers.

Of one thing I am certain. If in any industry—and that applies particularly to sheltered industries working for the home market—a reasonable case can be made out for shortening hours, and if the shortening of hours is not going to place an undue burden upon the industry concerned, the day will come when that industry will get the shorter hours through free negotiation and with the support of enlightened public opinion in this country. But for Parliament to enact that, over the whole field of industry, the maximum number of hours is to be 40 or some other arbitrary figure, irrespective of different conditions in different industries, would be unwise and would aggravate the very problem which hon. Members on both sides are equally anxious to solve, namely, the problem of unemployment.

I am certain that in the next five or ten years we shall see a reduction of hours and I believe that reduction will come about in the manner which I have indicated. Such a reduction of hours is bound to come first in the sheltered trades. I do not believe it will come in the unsheltered trades until we have a satisfactory international agreement. While I sympathise with 90 per cent. of what has been said by the Mover and Seconder of this Motion, yet I feel that if it were carried and brought into effect it would create a serious position in this country and that if we were to embark upon such a course as is here suggested, by ourselves without any international agreement, the result would only be to aggravate the unemployment problem.

5.4 p.m.

Squadron-Leader WRIGHT

I beg to second the Amendment.

I do so with some diffidence, because this is the first occasion on which I have had the honour of addressing the House. The subject of this Motion is one in which I have been intensely interested for some time, and although I intend to oppose strongly the Motion so ably put forward by the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald), I should like it to be clearly understood that I am, for reasons which I shall presently give, a very firm believer in the necessity of doing everything possible to shorten hours of labour. I find myself, however, differing fundamentally from the hon. Member for Ince in my outlook on this subject. He believes that if we shortened hours of work by compulsory legislation, we would be able to spread the work and create more employment. I hope to show that it is not likely that such would be the case. I, on my side, regard the shortening of hours of work, by co-operation between employers and employed, as a wholly desirable factor in improving industrial conditions, and I think there is a very obvious reason for believing that it can be done. As we all know, there are few people doing jobs of work to-day who could not do that work with equal efficiency and in less time if they realised that the time thus saved would be their own. I, therefore, would regard shorter working hours as a reward for increased efficiency.

What are the problems with which we find ourselves confronted when we try to deal with this question of shorter working hours? Immediately we are faced with two alternatives. One is to reduce working hours, say, from 47 or 48 to 40 and to pay only for the 40 hours worked. I think we are all agreed that that is a policy to which no British Government would agree. It would be an entirely ridiculous policy, because it would mean that by legislation we were actually reducing the spending power of our people. Since our prosperity depends on maintaining and wherever possible increasing the spending power of the people, such a policy would not only fail to provide more employment but would very shortly create more unemployment.

So we turn from that alternative to the other. The other alternative is to make a reduction in hours but to continue to pay the wages now paid for the larger number of hours. At first sight it might seem that by doing so, we were at least maintaining the spending power of the people, but obviously what we would really be doing would be increasing the country's wages bill by about 20 per cent. One does not require to be a great student of business economy to realise that that would be followed immediately by a corresponding increase in the cost of living. So although the worker would go home each week with the same amount of money in his pocket as if he had worked the longer hours, yet he would find that his spending power had been reduced owing to the increased cost of living. Therefore I feel that any attempt to deal with this matter by any form of compulsory legislation would meet with disaster.

I would recall to the House a speech made by the Prime Minister at Bristol in October, 1934. He was then dealing with the Government's outlook on this question and he summed up the situation very concisely. He pointed out the undesirability of attempting to deal with this question by legislation, and he went on to say that the Government would welcome and encourage any efforts by individual firms or by industries to attain by means of co-operation between employers and employés the very desirable result of shorter hours. I have not the slightest doubt that it can be done, but it can only be done by securing increased efficiency in the shortest time, and, this in turn can only be achieved by genuine co-operation between employers and employés. My reason for saying so is this. I think it will be agreed that every day there is an appalling waste of time and a considerable waste of material in industry throughout the country. I maintain that if we could retrieve only a reasonable percentage of that waste, it would be possible to find all the money that is required to introduce these very desirable improvements. Unfortunately, the only people who can effect that saving are the people who to-day are creating the waste, that is the workers themselves, and in very few cases is there any incentive for them to change their methods and try to retrieve that waste.

I am convinced that if employers and employés would only get together and look at these things in the right light, much could be done. As soon as the employés were absolutely satisfied that the increased productivity, the increased profits, which would arise from retrieving that waste, would come to them, to help in creating these improvements, I believe we could start at once to find the money which is necessary to introduce such a sweeping change as the shortening of working hours. I have said that shorter working hours should be the reward of increased efficiency. When we get increased efficiency it will help to maintain a satisfactory ratio between the cost of living and the spending power of the people, and it is essential that we should maintain a satisfactory ratio in that respect if we are to maintain and increase the prosperity of the general mass of the people. This result, as I say, can be obtained by genuine co-operation.

I venture to give the House two examples of what I happen to know is going on in industry at present. In one case a firm is proceeding quite successfully and entirely as the result of genuine co-operation, to work 45 hours while continuing to pay the wages which were formerly paid for 48 hours, with no increased cost of production. The second case is rather different and illustrates a system which, if it could be worked generally, would be ideal, though obviously it would not be possible to apply it everywhere. This is the case of a firm which for two or three years has been getting 80 hours a week out of its plant by working two shifts of 40 hours each, and has been paying 48 hours wages for 40 hours work. Of course the employés concerned have to work at unusual hours, because the plant starts at 6 o'clock in the morning and runs continuously until 10 o'clock at night. They are very content to do that, because not only are they getting 48 hours' pay for 40 hours' work, but every week-end they get a clear holiday of 2½ days, and that is very much appreciated.

But what of the firm? First of all, they are employing twice as many people as they would otherwise be doing. Secondly, they are finding that they can absorb the whole of that 20 per cent. increase in wages, and they are actually able to sell the commodities which they make at a lower price than they would be able to sell them at if they were working 48 hours as under the old system. That is very interesting, because it shows what can be done by genuine co-operation. I am convinced that it can only be done by what I call co-operation, because it is necessary to get increased effort, and if you do not have that increased effort—and you do not get it simply by legislation which says that you must work shorter hours—you are immediately going to get a rise in the cost of production, which will reflect itself in decreased selling power and will put up the cost of living. It is for that reason that I strongly oppose this Motion and have pleasure in seconding the Amendment.

5.17 p.m.


I am sure the House would like me at once to congratulate most warmly the hon. and gallant Member for Erdington (Squadron-Leader Wright), who has just been speaking for the first time, on the effective manner in which he has performed that difficult and trying task. He has dealt with a subject of which he has intimate personal knowledge in an interesting and thorough way, and I am sure we shall all look forward to future contributions from him on matters which he knows a great deal about. I intend, in a minute or two, to make some reference to the very important points that he has raised, but I would like, first of all, to say something about this problem from its international point of view.

I rise to support the original Motion. It seems to me that there is very genuine ground for criticism of the Government in regard to the attitude which they have taken up at Geneva for a number of years past—long before my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour went there —with regard to the discussions on the Convention for a limitation of hours to 40 per week. It seems to me that their attitude has been unsympathetic, obstructive, and negative, and that they have given encouragement thereby to a certain section of employers who have all along taken, I think, a very shortsighted view of these negotiations. I am very sorry to notice that some of the employers have even gone so far, on occasion, at Geneva, as to go on strike and refuse to take any part whatsoever in the negotiations. I think that is an unworthy attitude to take up. Whether one agrees with the scheme or not, one ought to do one's best for it, but I am afraid that they have been encouraged in that course by the attitude which the Government themselves have adopted.

The Government have taken advantage, it seems to me, of the conflict of opinion which certainly exists in this country and all over the world between the two principles of wage maintenance and work sharing. We hold to the first, but other countries do not. There is scope there for difference of opinion, and I think the Government have taken advantage of it. There are immense difficulties in this problem, and it will be extremely difficult to arrive at a satisfactory arrangement, but some day it will be arrived at. It is essential that in due course there should be an international limitation of hours, and I should have thought it would have been far better to have got down to the details of these problems and worked constructively with other nations in trying to find out where the difficulties hitherto have been.

The MINISTER of LABOUR (Mr. Ernest Brown)

Hear, hear. We have.


It does not seem to me that their record, which I shall refer to in a little more detail, exactly bears out the cheers that have just come from the Treasury Bench. I hope it is an announcement of their intention to do better in future. These negotiations first started in June, 1933, when the Seventeenth International Labour Office Conference took place, and the principle of the 40-hour week was opposed by most of the employers. The opposition was led by the British Government, in association with the Japanese and German Governments. In 1934 the British Government again opposed it, though on different grounds. They then said it was a matter which was too complicated and that it ought to be dealt with industry by industry. That may be so, and an attempt was made by the International Labour Office to meet their point of view. Their ideas were adopted, and, as is known, there was a general resolution, followed by the possibility of dealing with different industries industry by industry in the Schedule. In 1935 a draft Convention was actually adopted, by 75 votes to 27, on the 40-hour week, the British Government abstaining.

That Convention had three main points. First of all, it adopted the principle of the 40-hour week as being a desirable objective—not as one to be put into force at once everywhere, but merely as a desirable objective. Secondly, it adopted the principle that there should be maintenance of the standard of living, a very different thing from maintenance of wage rates. It is very much more important, because if you maintain wage rates, the cost of living may go up, and the actual earnings of the workers will be very much less. It is a greater advantage to the workers, therefore, to maintain the standard of living. This was a more elastic definition that that adopted before. A reduction of the standard of living was not forbidden, but it was definitely deprecated. The third point was that these different industries should be taken one by one and discussed in detail.

As I say, the British Government abstained, but a large number of Governments voted for it, and very powerful Governments too—the Governments of the United States of America, Belgium, France, Italy, and a number of others. I think it may be said that the result of this draft Convention was to hold up 40 instead of 48 hours as being the desirable goal. In the Washington Convention the figure was 48, and it shows a great advance. Although we are still a very long way off getting the 40-hour week, that is what we are striving for now, and not the 48-hour week which formerly lay in front of us. It is admitted that it is not simply an emergency proposal to deal with unemployment, but that it is the workers' legitimate share of the advantages that are brought to industry through modern technique.

Now I want to deal with the speech made by the Minister of Labour this year, when, I was very glad to see, he went out himself and took part in the proceedings. It is very desirable that Ministers, if they can spare the time, should go personally and take part in these discussions. The right hon. Gentleman said that the British Government did not intend to ratify the Convention and that it was a menace to the British workers. He said, very truly, that British workers were opposed to any wage reduction with a reduction of hours. He then went on to assume, what really is not accurate, I think, that there necessarily would be a reduction of wages. That does not follow at all. I will quote his actual words. He said: The organisation, by attempting to isolate the question of hours of work from wages and other vital considerations, can snake no real progress in improving world conditions. My right hon. Friend knows very well that these things are often dealt with, both nationally and internationally. He went on to refer to the fact that it was far better that the wages should be dealt with freely by negotiation between the two parties concerned, and no doubt that is true, but it negatived what he had said before, the inference from which was that if they had a Convention dealing both with hours and wages, he would be impressed and would be prepared to co-operate. I think that makes it clear that the Government are not really very anxious to take a very active part in bringing about a Convention. On the same occasion Miss Miller, the representative of the American Ministry of Labour, took a quite different point of view and said that the American Government were in favour of the Convention as it stood. A very good answer was given to our Minister of Labour by Mr. Edelman, the United States workers' representative, who said: Labour is for, and believes it can enforce, with perhaps a very slight time lag, the principle of maintaining present or higher wages when hours reductions are effected…There is no more certain way of creating a situation where wages must rise than by reducing the hours of work in the week. That was the position of an American representative, There were several meetings this year of committees set up to deal with the question industry by industry, and here again I would venture to criticise the action of the Government and to ask them if they will be good enough to explain what was the reason for adopting such an attitude. There were several committees appointed, but the British Government sought to be represented on only one of them, that dealing with iron and steel. There was another very important committee, dealing with coal mines, but the Government were not represented on it, although three times the Miners Federation asked them to be represented, and there was on the spot in Geneva a responsible official of the Mines Department who could have gone there and represented the British Government. Why was it not done? There must be some explanation, and I have no doubt the Government will be able to give it; but it does not seem very encouraging. The question of the reduction of hours in mines is one of immense importance to this country, and we ought to do all we can to tackle it. A coalowner was speaking to me only a day or two ago in reference to hours in mines, and he said that he thought, in view of the intensification of machinery in mines, that a four-hour day was enough for the miner to handle the machinery. We are too much inclined to think of the old times when it was just a long day of heavy labour, whereas to-day it is a short day of highly intensified work.

My hon. Friend who introduced this Motion referred to what was going on in France. It is a long way from being complete, but the Act has been passed, and he asked why we cannot have it here. One answer is that the progressively-minded people in France have had the good sense to unite in a popular front, and they have put in power a Government that adopts legislation of this kind. Until progressive people in this country—and I include many Conservatives—do the same thing, we shall have to put up with the galaxy of talent we now see on the Front Bench. It is not only in France where progress is being made towards a 40-hour week in practice. It is being done in Belgium and New Zealand, and in many instances in Russia. I am afraid that the 40-hour week has riot made very rapid developments in this country, but I believe, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Erdington said, that there is a great opportunity in industry in England to bring it into operation without any reduction in pay—that is, where rationalisation is taking place. Whether we like it or riot, it is taking place in many industries.

I would appeal to the Government, to employers and to trade unions, to bear this matter very closely in mind when rationalisation is taking place and in the negotiations that follow it, and to see whether, as part of the deal, they cannot come to an arrangement for a reduction of the working hours to 40. In cases of this kind it means that the workers are asked to accept methods which are perhaps totally different from anything to which they have been accustomed in the past, and it is not easy for them to make the mental change. If it is coupled up, as it might well be, with a reduction in the working week, you will get an agreement acceptable to both sides. I earnestly beg the Government to use all their influence with employers and to point out the opportunities which undoubtedly exist.

If I may be permitted to refer to my own experience in this matter, I have found it possible to reduce the working week concurrently with rationalisation from 47 to 40 hours, that is, a five day week of eight hours each. In this particular case—and I do not say it can be repeated—there has been no reduction in pay, but actually an increase of about 25 per cent. There have been no discharges and the costs of production have gone down. The House may be interested to have some personal experience in this matter, because I am convinced that, while exactly the same results cannot be repeated in other cases, there is a large field in industry where progress could be made if the three parties concerned—the employers and workpeople, with the encouragement of the Government—make their most earnest endeavours to do so.


May I ask what proportion wage costs bear to the total costs of production in the hon. Gentleman's own industry, because that is an important consideration?


I fully appreciate that point arid I should not like to say offhand what it is, but it is a small one, and that is why I say it could not be repeated. There is no reason, however, why something on that line should not be done. The reduction in hours has meant to the workpeople a clear two days' holiday, and increased opportunity to attend to their hobbies, and more time spent in the open air in the cultivation of allotments. During the summer months it gives opportunities to those who have motor bicycles and sidecars to go away to the seaside on Friday evening and come back on Sunday, which was never possible before. It enables them to follow the away matches of their favourite football team, which cannot be done by workers who have to work on Saturday morning. To the women it has given opportunities for shopping at hours when the shops are not so full as they are on Saturday afternoon. The Foreign Secretary said the other day that the British Government are going to give a lead. I hope that the Minister of Labour, whatever may have happened in the past, is going to give a lead in this matter. I know that the path is a difficult one, but it has got to he covered some time, and the sooner it is covered the better. If the British Government would show that they are in earnest and determined to make progress, the path would be traversed at a much earlier date than would otherwise be the case.

5.37 p.m.


What always puzzles me when I listen to the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) is how he manages to reconcile his Liberalism with the speeches he makes on such subjects as this for they are certainly not Liberalism. That he should in his own industry be taking the step of reducing hours is in accordance with Liberal principles, but that he should come to this House and advocate the interference of the State in the matter may be becoming for a Tory, and certainly becoming for a Socialist, but it is not becoming for a Liberal.


The hon. Gentleman is very much out of date in his view of Liberalism. He is thinking of the Liberalism of 50 years ago.


Having been born a Liberal and remained a Liberal all my life, I have some regard to the principles of Liberalism. I am proud that my native Lancashire should have produced the Proposer and Seconder of this Motion. I have been sorry to note that the prize for popularity, and, I might even say, affection felt on this side of the House for hon. Members opposite, seemed likely to be snatched from Lancashire by the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell) and the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson), and I am glad to see that Lancashire has regained first place in the affections of this side of the House. I venture to intervene because I have had unusual experience of this matter of shorter hours. When I served my apprenticeship in the late 19th century, I was apprenticed to the firm of Mather and Platt, which was the first firm in the engineering trade to adopt the 48-hour week. The hon. Member for Bury (Mr. Chorlton), I may mention, happened to be works manager when I was an apprentice. The whole scheme was taken up with the greatest enthusiasm by the men employed. It meant doing away with the hour worked before breakfast, which the heads of the firm had always thought a mistake and a great waste of labour and time. When the 48-hour week was introduced the efficiency of labour in those works became enormously higher than in other works I remember when starting work in the morning that one had a hammer in one hand and a chisel in the other, and as soon as the electric bell went the hammer descended on the chisel—a thing unknown in shops working 56 hours. But I fear that it did not last. After my apprenticeship, I took the risk of setting up for myself, and I started my own place on a 48-hour week. Subsequently, when the engineering trade hours were reduced 15 years ago to 47 I brought mine down to 44. As far as I can see at the moment in the engineering trade, I have got down to hours as low as possible without reducing the standard of living of the workers. I do not say that circumstances may not alter and that it may not be possible to take further steps in future, but for the present, my opinion, based upon actual experience over a considerable time, is that I do not think I could reduce the hours further without it having some effect on the standard of living of the workers.

Do not let us deceive ourselves about one point. Do not let it be imagined that because hours are reduced there is an immense wave of enthusiasm among the workers. I am afraid that, even in my own works, many of those dear old customs of the trade which were invented by ingenious people in the past for reducing the amount of work performed in a given time, still prevail in spite of the fact that every man in the works knows that if he increases production the whole product of his labour goes back into the pockets of himself and his fellows. So do not let us think that human nature has changed because of the hours of work, for it has not. The point of view of those who moved this Motion is that these things are best done by statutory enactment. Our point of view on this side is that they are better done by trade union agreement. I feel strongly—and other Members on this side of the House and employers of labour feel—that one of the greatest disasters that has overtaken industry in this country was the attempt made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), which had a large degree of success, to destroy the whole trade union system by taking away from the unions their proper functions and putting them into the hands of the State. "If you trust your trade union," said he, "you get only 4d. for 4d., but if you give your vote for the politician, you get 9d. for 4d." If we had a Statute introduced definitely reducing hours in the way suggested by hon. Members opposite, we would not, until it had been working for a year or two, have any conception of what its effect would be on the prosperity of the workers themselves.

But trade union leaders are more closely in touch with their own people and they can make a shrewd guess as to whether their own supporters are really in favour of any particular demand which they put forward. If they put forward demands which the industry in question cannot grant, it is almost certain that they will be defeated, whereas, if they put forward demands which the employers say the industry will not stand when, in reality, the industry will stand them, my experience is that almost inevitably the trade union will get a substantial part of the demand that they put forward. In those cases no irreparable injury is done to the industry. There is a flexibility, or there used to be, rather, about those things which statutory authority entirely does away with, rendering any mistake a difficult thing to correct subsequently.

I put that point briefly to hon. Members opposite and ask them to consider whether, in this particular instance, it would not really be a mistake to have a hard-and-fast statutory rule about the hours of work. Would it not really be better to see whether, after all, employers of labour have not got a little bit more civilised in recent days than they used to be before the War? When all is said and done, as I think hon. Members will, in their hearts, agree, the happiness of the workers depends ultimately not upon Statutes and not upon Government action but upon the civilising of employers of labour.

5.46 p.m.


The Mover of the Amendment said he did not believe that it would be to the advantage of the workers if this Motion were carried. We on this side, members of trade unions, are always prepared to take risks and we will certainly take the risk of seeking to reduce working hours. The Mover of the Amendment said that he was somewhat sceptical as to how this proposal would work in France, but at any rate the French Government are bold enough to take the risk, and we only wish the British Government would be equally bold. The Mover also said there was adequate machinery in this country to deal with questions of this kind. I am afraid that I cannot agree. There is no adequate machinery for dealing with the domestic problem of shop life; otherwise, assistants would not be working 60 to 70 hours a week as they are to-day. Whatever may be said about the League of Nations on its political side, no one can say that it, has failed on its industrial side. People are apt to think of the League only in connection with its failures and to overlook its successes. Fortunately, both the United States and Japan are in the League on its industrial side, although, unfortunately, not on its political side.

I would remind hon. Members that Robert Owen, the great co-operative pioneer, must be given the credit for initiating the idea of an international labour organisation to deal with such questions as working hours. More than 100 years ago he presented a petition for the international regulation of working hours. That petition was turned down, but the fruits of that effort were secured following the Great War. Robert Owen understood perfectly well that it was only by international agreement that unfair conditions could be checked and friction between nations obviated. Here is a brief quotation from the report presented at Geneva this year by Mr. Butler, the chief director of the International Labour Office: The predominant aim set before the International Labour Office by its constitution is the quest of social justice. Without social justice there can be no peace. War is not caused only or mainly by lust for territory or booty or prestige. It is also caused by low standards of living, by the feeling of economic insecurity, by the desire for moral or social emancipation. The roots are to be found in actual or threatened impoverishment, declining standards of life, insecurity for the future of themselves and their children which darkens the outlook of the present generation in so many countries. The remedy is not to be found in political pacts or frontier rectifications or Disarmament Conferences alone. If for nothing else, the League deserves our whole-hearted support for what it has done for child labour, particularly in the East. I am glad to say that in India, Persia, Egypt, China and Japan the age of child labour has been raised and the working hours reduced; further, in Japan they now have holidays with pay. I hope the Government will take note of that. In this great work of raising the standard of life and reducing working hours I regret to say that the League has not received the support either of the British Government or British employers that it deserves.

British employers constantly bemoan foreign competition and cry for tariffs to keep out foreign goods, but they have opposed every effort at Geneva for the international regulation of working hours. It is not merely a question of the 40-hour week. What was their 'attitude on the Washington Convention? I remember the arguments used at Geneva against the 48-hour week. M. Thomas, who was then chief director, had to take the British employers to task for their attitude there. I was on a, deputation which on one occasion went to the then Minister of Labour about the Washington Convention. He said that 95 per cent, of the workers in this country already enjoyed a 48-hour week and that therefore there was no necessity for interfering, but surely if 95 per cent. were enjoying a 48-hour week it would have been a simple matter to legislate for the remaining 5 per cent.? Last year, at Geneva, the majority of the employers, though not all, led by the British employers, refused to play the game. They refused even to enter into committee to discuss the pros and cons of the case, and for this they were severely taken to task by a number of Government representatives, among them representatives of the British Dominions and the United States. The criticism of the United States representative was the most scathing of all. He said that one would imagine, listening to the arguments, or, rather, the excuses, that God had wound up the clock at the beginning and had thrown away the key, and that, therefore, there was no necessity for any change.

I know the attitude which the British Government take up, but what has been the experience of the United States? Not only were wages increased, but hours were reduced, in certain industries to 35 a week and in others to 40 or 45, with the result that they were able to employ 5,000,000 of their unemployed. In Czechoslovakia 750 factories are working a 40-hour week and 1,500 factories less than a 40-hour week, with no reduction in wages. France during the past two years has abolished overtime in vital industries. Overtime is one of the greatest curses of our present commercial system. On the one hand we find men and women and, according to the Factory Inspector's report, even boys and girls, working almost all the hours that God sends, while, on the other hand, men and women and boys and girls are walking the streets unable to obtain employment. In New Zealand they have a 40-hour week, and in Australia, not content with a 40-hour week, they are now going forward with a 30-hour week. Belgium has a 40-hour week in the Government programme, and it is the same in all the Scandinavian countries.

If all those countries are prepared to take the risk we cannot understand why the British Government is afraid to do so. At one time it was our proud boast that we led the world in social legislation, but that can no longer be said, but, thank heaven, the British Dominions are endeavouring to maintain British prestige in this respect. We have heard a good deal about prosperity, but there can be no prosperity when we have, on the Minister's own showing, 1,600,000 workers unemployed. Unfortunately, unless rumour be a lying jade, there is a considerable amount of overtime in the munition areas at the present time. I hope the Government will bear in mind the war-time experience. Overtime was then so prevalent in many munition factories, which were working seven days a week, that the sickness ratio grew to such an alarming extent that the medical fraternity had to intervene and approach the Government. When the United States entered the War the first thing they did was to introduce the 48-hour week in munition works. We contend that the scientific devices introduced to increase production ought not to be used merely as wage-saving' devices, but as labour-saving in the real sense, by a reduction in the working hours, so providing the workers with more leisure. We have it on the authority of no less a person than Sir Charles hander that a 40-hour week in this country would absorb at least 500,000 workers.

I wish to call the attention of the Government to a domestic occupation in which there is no question of international complications or foreign competition. In 1931 a Select Committee on Shop Assistants reported in favour of a 48-hour week, and a private Member's Bill was introduced to give effect to the findings of that Committee, but the Government opposed it. In 1934 an Act was passed limiting the hours of young persons under 18 to 52 hours, and this year they will be restricted to 48. What has been the effect on the adult shop workers? Prior to that Measure for the young people, the only other legal limitation of shop assistants' hours was under an Act passed 49 years ago restricting the employment of young persons under 18 to 74 hours per week, inclusive of meal times. As a result of the Act of 1934 restricting the employment of young persons under 18 there has been an actual increase in the working hours of the adult assistants, because there is no legal limitation of their hours. They have to perform after the shop has been closed many tasks which formerly were done by the juniors. To-day hundreds of thousands of shop assistants are working 60 hours and more a week, while 250,000 distributive workers are walking the streets unable to find employment. We say that if the Government would do its duty and give effect to the findings of the Select Committee that would absorb to a considerable extent the 250,000 now out of work.

Long hours in the distributive trades are absolutely uncalled for. There is neither foreign competition nor international complications, and the public do not demand those hours. In the shops of the co-operative societies from one end of the country to the other a 48-hour 'week is worked, except in the North of England, where it is a 44-hour week. In the West End establishments of London, there is, by agreement with the union, a 48-hour week, but, as a matter of fact, the average time worked is 45½ hours. That covers 30,000 employés. Surely, seeing that that is possible in co-operative societies and in the best firms in this country, there can be no excuse if the Government do not give effect to the findings of the Select Committee, and thereby do something to deal with the unemployment problem. We believe that legal limitation to 48 hours would, to a considerable extent, absorb that 250,000, and I hope that the Government will bear the suggestion in mind.

6.1 p.m.


I should like to join with the rest of the House in recognising the extremely fair and moderate tone of the Mover and Seconder of this Resolution. That tone was pretty well supplemented by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment. I am sorry to have to disappoint the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) in appearing at the Box myself, and denying him the very real pleasure of hearing my chief; but I am sure he and everybody, on this afternoon above all afternoons, would be the last to wish to deprive him of a certain shortening of his hours of work, provided always, of course, that his earnings and standard of life remain the same.


Why does he take a busman's holiday?

Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD

Last year the Resolution on this subject, which was moved by the hon. Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) was specific in character. The weakness of it was that the specific portions of it contradicted each other, namely, adherence to the principles of the 40-hour week discussed at Geneva together with provision for the maintenance of earnings. This year, the Mover of the Resolution has given us a Motion very general in its terms. There is no doubt that, generally stated, the principle of the shortening of the hours of work is of very wide application indeed, and it is for that reason that it is necessary to remember the considerations that must be borne in mind in regard to its practical application, for only in such way can we view the problem in the proper perspective. The wording of the Amendment helps very considerably towards viewing the problem in proper perspective.

It is true that there are certain things which the shortening of hours of work may do, but it does not follow that shortening hours of work will necessarily do those things. In some cases shortening of hours of work will act to the contrary of what its advocates desire. The Motion states that one effect would be the reduction of unemployment; it states fairly that shortening of hours of work is only one method which will, perhaps, help towards a solution of that problem. Speaking of that, the Mover of the Motion brought up that enormous question of mechanisation in its relation to unemployment. That is a problem which we have been discussing ad libitum ever since the beginning of the industrial revolution, and while it can be shown on certain grounds that mechanisation may lead to the lessening of employment in certain industries, there is the fact to be remembered that at the present moment, when mechanisation and laboursaving devices are at their peak—how further forward they will go I do not know—we have the greatest number of people employed in this country that has ever been known. I therefore do not want to follow in any detail the particular arguments on that question which, as we all know, would occupy a good many weeks if debated to the full.

Another point which the Mover of the Motion raised, and upon which he put a specific question, was as to the provision we were making to guard against an industrial slump which he said was undoubtedly coming. I am not prepared to admit that a slump is necessarily coming. Even if we consider, as indeed we must consider always, the possibility of a slump in industry, it is extremely difficult to visualise in any detail the nature of that slump, and it is impossible to endeavour to create some cast-iron safeguard against a slump the nature of which, when it occurs, one cannot forecast. With regard to the question of the effect of shortening hours of work in reducing unemployment, one has first to consider the thing from the point of view of the practical working of industry. Those with practical experience of industry know well that by simply shortening hours of work you cannot, for practical reasons, increase the number of persons employed in a strict arithmetical ratio. We are extremely indebted to the hon. and gallant Member for Erdington (Squadron-Leader Wright) for giving us such an extremely practical contribution, to this Debate founded, I have no doubt, largely on personal experience in his most successful maiden speech.

Another point concerns the sheltered industries. Nobody denies, in considering this problem, that there is necessarily a difference of point of view between the sheltered as compared with the unsheltered industries which feel the blast of foreign competition. With regard to the cotton industry, for instance, some theoretical reduction of hours of labour, in accordance with the principle of this Motion, is not going to reduce the amount of unemployment in the cotton industry. The cotton industry's chief competitor, Japan, would probably do no such thing. That is, I think, one of the most forcible instance that can be given. The hon. Member for Ince naturally mentioned the question of the 40-hour week in coal mines in France. Without going any further into the subject, I think it is germane to indicate to the House the comparison of the French coal industry with our own. These are the 1935 figures, all in millions of metric tons: France, production 46.2; exports, including hunkers, 1.2; imports, 17.9. Great Britain, production 225.8; exports, including bunkers, 52; imports, nil. Those figures show the fundamental difference between the French coal industry and our own. Reports in the French Press state that since 1st June there has been an increase in the price of coal in France by 20 to 40 per cent., and some part of it is said to be attributable to the introduction of the 40-hour week. That sort of thing may perhaps be possible where most of the coal is sold inland, but there is an entirely different problem when you have to deal with an exporting industry.

I cannot pass by the remark made by the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander), who said that the intelligent people in France had solved their problem by forming a popular front.


The progressive people.

Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD

Well, the progressive people in France are five years behind the progressive people of this country, because five years ago we formed a popular front, which at that time included the hon. Member and his friends. There is still a front and, judged by the last General Election, it is very popular. The French progressives had better hurry up.


The trouble is, you are not facing front now.

Lieut. - Colonel MUIRHEAD

The Motion regards reduction of hours as in itself constituting a reform, because, towards the end, it blames the Government for resisting a proposal for this reform. When we speak of a reform we do not necessarily mean a desirable reform. Shortening of hours is not in itself necessarily a desirable reform. It is admitted, and it is good that it has been admitted, that if shortening of hours is accompanied by a decrease in the earnings of the workers of this country, that is not a desirable reform.


Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman relate anything in this country during the last 30 or 40 years where reduction of the hours of labour has carried with it the reduction in the weekly wages?

Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD

I said that if reduction of earnings took place, that was not a reform, and I am certain that the hon. Member agrees with that statement. If that fact is established in view of what has gone on at Geneva and the representations on that point, this afternoon's Debate has done a very great service indeed. It is clear that anything in the direction of reduction of earnings would not be agreed to by the workers of this country.


it would not be accepted.

Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD

We have clarified two points, and one is grateful to the Mover of the Amendment for helping in that direction. Let us come to that point of the Motion which complains that the Government have resisted the proposal for this reform concerning shortening of hours of work. There, quite rightly, the hon. Member for Ince stressed the home front. He quite rightly put that first and said: "Let us talk about Geneva afterwards." Let me take what has happened in Geneva. I am the last person to want to disregard any official for his work in that connection, but I would remind the hon. Member that in the conference last June my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and, after him, myself, took a considerable part. I hope that that has dealt with the point. It is well known that in 1935 there was a convention on the principle of the 40-hour week, which we refused to support because we could not get any certainty that earnings would be safeguarded—instead there was merely a vague reference to "maintaining the standard of life." It was much too nebulous, having regard to the dif- ferent standards of life throughout the world, for us to agree to.

It is a very serious thing. Do not let anybody doubt the seriousness with which we regard the putting of our signatures to documents involving international obligations to introduce legislation in this country. We cannot take any risks where a matter of that kind is concerned. This year, disagreeing with the convention in principle of last year, we were, of course, not prepared to agree to a convention putting a principle of which we disapproved into operation in the case of specific industries, but we did state clearly, and what happened at the end of the conference justified our view, that we would be prepared to co-operate in conversations or conferences between representatives of Governments, employers and workers in each industry, to examine the questions, not only of hours, but of wages and working conditions generally.

Let me take a typical instance, because it referred to a very big industry, the industry of iron and steel. The committee at Geneva put forward a draft convention on this subject, but the conference failed to give it the two-thirds majority which was necessary for its adoption. If we had been anxious that the whole matter of the regulation of hours by international agreement should drop, our easiest course would have been to do nothing more; but we did not wish it to drop. We were fully conscious of the immense ramifications of the industry, not only from the home point of view, but still more from the international point of view, and, therefore, we were determined that, if any agreements were subsequently to be arrived at to which we could put our signature, it should be done on a full basis of the facts and considerations covering the widest possible scope. Therefore, I myself—this was after the Minister had gone—moved the following resolution: The Conference decides to request the Governing Body to consider the convening of a tripartite technical conference of Governments and of employers' and work-people's representatives in the iron and steel industry, with a view to reaching an understanding as to equitable standards based on adequate information concerning wages, hours and working conditions in the industry throughout the world. That resolution was passed by 65 votes to 21, and to my mind it constituted a really practical contribution to the con- sideration of a subject which otherwise, as far as the Conference was concerned, might possibly have died altogether. That seems to me to be another point in what I may call the basic practice by which the Government are actuated, namely, that whatever we do must be on the basis, not of a mere theory, not of a mere paper resolution, but on the basis of well considered data.

The hon. Member for Ince referred to the question of holidays with pay, and said that we are opposed to holidays with pay. That is not correct. It is perfectly true that we again prefer at this stage a recommendation rather than a convention, for, although holidays with pay may seem to many people to be a very simple thing, in point of fact, nowadays, there are many ramifications of this problem throughout industry as a whole, and we frankly prefer, as I have said, a recommendation to a convention. Therefore, as regards a convention, we did not oppose it, but we abstained; and abstention is something which is thoroughly well understood at Geneva as being for minor reasons rather than for reasons of first importance. It is perfectly well understood thus in the atmosphere of the International Labour Conference.


Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us why the Government were unable to attend the meetings of the Committee on Coal?

Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD

We were not asked. We cannot be on every committee. It is well understood that the membership of committees is shared out. We cannot walk into a committee room and say, "We are going to be on this committee." The question of the arrangements as to who is to be on committees is in the hands of the management of the International Labour Conference.


Was it not open to the Government to obtain admission to that committee; and is not the subject of coal mines important from the point of view of His Majesty's Government?

Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD

One may say that there is not a single subject that comes up at Geneva which is not of interest to the British Government, with its world-wide responsibilities, but it is equally clear that we cannot be on all the committees. Although, however, we had not a member on that Committee, we did, in view of our interest in the matter, have someone there to watch the proceedings.

I come now to the question of domestic problems. The hon. Member for Ince referred to the deputation to the Prime Minister on the subject of the hours of work of Government employés; and again he asked us to give him a frank reply. I will. It is that I can assure him that an answer to the points raised by that deputation has not by any means been overlooked. He may say he has been given the same old answer, that it has been considered. [An HON. ME-HER: "It was given six months ago."] I agree; it might have been longer. The Government do not assert that there is not scope for improvement in hours of work in every industry, but they are not going to be influenced by discussions and arguments such as are, I am afraid, all too common in connection with this problem—arguments of a generalised description and a very impracticable nature. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, as I think the House is aware, has for a considerable time past been conducting discussings with representatives of various industries on this very point of the reduction of working hours, and the result, so far, of those discussions will be embodied in a White Paper which will be in the possession of the House next week.

I might perhaps refer particularly to the question of the distributive trades, to which my right hon. Friend has been giving particular attention. He has not been altogether satisfied with the rates of wages or the hours of work there, and next week, largely on his initiative, there will be discussions between representatives of various branches of that large occupation, to see whether more satisfactory regulation of rates of wages and hours of work cannot be agreed upon. The hon. Member for Ince asked why cannot the Government help to do something about shortening the hours of work? This is in fact a typical instance where, I suggest, the Government can help by initiating discussions which, if the trade were left entirely to itself, might not perhaps take place, or might not take place so soon. The powers of initiation of the Government in this country are very considerable, and in this case my right hon. Friend has utilised them effectively. But it is only in accordance with British tradition and British practice that the members of that industry, as we may call it, or large group of occupations, should first of all themselves be given a chance of regulating rates of wages and hours of work on a satisfactory basis.

That is what I may call the third basic point of practice actuating the Government in this question—to try to maintain as far as possible the working of the highly successful machinery for collective agreement which we have built up in this country. The State is always ready, if the industry itself does not do enough to satisfy the public conscience, to intervene, but that is a very different thing from intervening in the first place. I am sure that the trade union movement in this country, with all that it stands for, does not want to be supplanted in every case at the first step by Government Departments. I have said that the State is always ready to intervene if enough is not being done to satisfy the public conscience, and that brings me to the point which the hon. Member raised with regard to Home Office responsibility. I will read him a couple of extracts from a speech by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, which have a bearing on the new Factories Bill which, as is well known, is in contemplation. Discussing the question of the factory inspector's report, he said: I would like to say at once that at the Home Office we greatly deplore the excessive hours worked by women and young persons; but I must point out that it is true to say that in the great majority of cases the hours do not exceed 47 or 48 a week. We must not take the factory inspector's report as out of proportion, but must remember that his duty is to draw attention to difficulties, black spots, prosecutions, and anything that needs to be remedied. Hon. Members who have spoken to-day have paid a just tribute to the honesty, the complete impartiality and the frankness with which the factory inspectors discharge their duty. Therefore, we must not make the mistake of thinking that, because certain things feature in the report, they necessarily apply to the great majority of industries and workers. A little later on he said: I would only make this observation, that it is proposed to deal with the matter of hours in the Factory Bill which is to be brought in next Session. I cannot go into details at this stage, but it is certain that there will be a very substantial reduction upon the present legal limit."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th July, 1936; cols. 1846–7, Vol. 315.] That forecast is implemented in the King's Speech. The Government, through their inspectors, have frankly recognised the existence of certain unsatisfactory features and have indicated a determination to do their best to remedy them in the forthcoming Factories Bill.

I will give two other instances of steps that we are taking in connection with domestic problems. In the woollen textile industry the machinery of consultation has shown a certain weakness, and, therefore, at the instigation of my right Friend the Minister of Labour, there is at this moment a board of inquiry in that industry. With regard to road transport, a new and rapidly developing industry, the Government have been active in appointing a committee to inquire into the conditions, which are necessarily fluid and developing. The hon. Member for Ince, among his many requests to me for frank replies—I hope I have not disappointed him so far—asked me to state frankly the attitude of the Government towards the question of the shortening of hours.

I hope I have already indicated frankly that the attitude of the Government is not in any sense, as the Motion indicates, merely an attitude of blind resistance to the shortening of hours. Indeed, it is very much to the contrary. But I have tried in my remarks to lay emphasis on three principles which, I think, actuate Government policy, a determination to preserve the earnings of British workmen, a determination to maintain as far as possible the machinery for voluntary collective agreements and a determination that it will commit itself to nothing such as a binding international convention except on the solid basis of the data, facts, figures and considerations in their widest form relating to the particular industry involved. Those, I think, are three principles which are certainly present to our minds. I will quote two short extracts from my right hon. Friend's speech at the Geneva Conference this year: It is in my judgment of little value to indulge only in a debating exercise of formulating a draft convention based on the convention adopted last year. I realise that this would be a simpler immediate course, but I hope this Conference will go more deeply than that into the difficult questions involved in order that there may be real and not only paper results. I suggest on behalf of the British Government that this Conference shall play its part and try to find a solution of its problems not alone on paper but also by the hard road of establishing and discussing the realities which stand in the way of fresh accomplishment in the field of social and industrial well-being. That is the spirit in which the Government will continue to work at the problem.

6.32 p.m.


My hon. Friend deliberately drew his Motion wide in order to give an opportunity of testing the feeling of the House irrespective of party. Until the hon. and gallant Gentleman rose, the feeling in the House was fairly clear. We have heard from that side of the House well delivered, good old Tory speeches worthy of the early part of the 19th century. On this side we have heard the case put for the workers and for legislation. The issue is very clear, arid I think hon. Members opposite must have been very thankful when the hon. and gallant Gentleman had been speaking for some time because he at least succeeded in somewhat clouding the issue. I must congratulate him on growing in office. He really showed signs of growing skilled because, when he was put in a difficult position about the Mines Convention and the committee, he said, "Of course we had not a representative on that committee." Will he tell the House that, if the Government that represents one of the largest coal industries in the world had wanted a member on the committee, it would not have had one? If he will deny that I make this further statement, that if Great Britain had not a representative on the Committee it is because the British Government deliberately manœuvred not to have one, and to say that there was a gentleman with a watching brief, as though the United States representative had come over with a watching brief to the League of Nations is merely to exhibit that cleverness into which a Minister of Labour is sometimes legitimately drawn, but, when dealing with this important question, hardly fair to the miners and to the question at issue. He made another point about the mines. He said it is true that they have reduced the hours in France, but they have increased the price of coal by 40 per cent. Has he heard that there has been an increase, and a very substantial increase, too, in this country.

Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD

I read out the actual words. part of which is considered to be attributable to the recent introduction of the 40-hour week in France.


That rather mitigates the effect, but has he not heard that there have been increases of wages given along with the reduction of hours and that, in fact, instead of the reduction in hours reducing wages, there is an increase of wages going side by side with the reduction?

My hon. Friends have made it clear that there are two things in their mind, first that the workers should gain some advantage from increased mechanisation and the advance of science, and, secondly, that on the ground of making some little contribution for the very terrible unemployment problem, there should be a reduction of hours. I understand that the Minister's own calculation at Geneva was that it would make something like a contribution of 10 per cent. With regard to obtaining some benefit from the increase in mechanisation and the advance in science, naturally the question of the miners would come to our minds. The reply of the other side was "Leave it to the good will of the employers. Where they can do it, they will, and in a large number of cases there have been reductions given voluntarily." But the industries that can look after themselves best are sometimes not the most heavily worked. It was bad enough to work underground when my friends and I were in the pit. I do not believe the people outside the mines appreciate what the country has owed to the terrific body, skin stripping work down in the pits. If historians knew more of what was done by miners towards the production of steel they would not be so eloquent about Napoleon going over the Alps and that kind of stuff. Bad as it was in our day, it is in some cases worse now. Members on all sides were staggered at the facts given by an hon. Member on this side in a case of disputed unemployment benefit. Working in a two-foot seam—in this case it was 20 inches —with a machine driven by electrical power, the effect upon the nerves is simply terrific. The increase of science generally in the pits is making the pressure so great that nowadays only the very strongest men can do it.

One hon. Member in a very able maiden speech, with a coolness which I envied, used the old phrases, "Broadly speaking we agree," "All other things being equal"—just the kind of speech that used to be made by the coalowners who opposed the first reduction of hours in the last century. An hon. Member quoted the Prime Minister saying that the question of 40 hours was one for outside negotiation and collective agreement. As a matter of fact the Prime Minister made pretty well the same kind of speech when the eight hours question came up in 1908. He honestly thought that the legislative way was not the way. Yet who dares to say nowadays that the reduction of hours for boys from 10 to eight was a mistake? There is not a Member opposite who will say it. Who will say that there would have been a reduction of hours if this Assembly had not reduced them? Everyone knows that there would not have been any reduction. It is safe to say that if this House had not interfered in the mining industry, boys would still have been working 10 hours in the pits. After the War a Royal Commission unanimously decided upon a reduction of hours to seven, and after a trial probably to six. The Conservatives, who do not agree with interfering legislatively in the matter of hours, increased the miners hours by one. So apparently it is not a good thing to decrease hours, but it is a good thing to use your power to increase them. The speech of the Mover of the Amendment was well delivered but I should despair of this House and the country if I thought it represented Conservative views, because I have noticed the tendency on the part of the younger element to move with the times, but that speech left us where we were in the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Take the question of the Government's position. The Minister of Labour, it is true, went to Geneva and said: The 40-hour week was launched with the idea of distributing available work and wages and reducing the number of wholly unemployed by a sharing of work. It was inevitable however that the question should be considered not only from the point of view of those out of work but also from the point of view of those in work. It was natural that those in employment should see in the proposal a menace to their earnings, and this aspect of the question was very prominent in Great Britain. Where? The only prominence that I know of in Great Britain is on Conservative platforms. The workers have asked for the 40 hours. They are legitimately entitled on experience to say, "Let the State do its duty." If this House decides upon a 40-hour week, it will become the law, and when it becomes the law we shall be able to look after ourselves. It is not from anywhere in working-class ranks that the fear of a reduction of wages has arisen. The House may take it that there will not be any reduction of wages as far as we are concerned. We certainly will not have that. There is no virtue in having your standard of life raised on the one hand, and then have us much taken away on the other. That is not the concern of the Government; it is our concern. I know that hon. Gentlemen opposite have a way of putting snares down so that gentlemen walk into them and all the rest of it. [Interruption.] If the hon. Gentleman doubts what I say, let him examine the legislation upon this question for the whole of the last century or so.

There have been reductions of hours from time to time. There has been action taken by the State to safeguard, improve the position, decrease the hours, and generally improve the conditions of the workers. From some of the representatives of employers, and very often from abstract economists, there has come a threat that to work shorter hours would do more harm than good. I was working in the pit when the minimum wage row began for 4s. a day, with no clothes on, except shoes and stockings. I was a good craftsman, and, in fact, like most miners when they got into that condition, I did not think that there was anyone as good. I used to read the arguments used in this House, such as, "On the average the miner gets so much," and I wondered wherever those averages were to be found. They did not come my way. There used to be such phrases as "broadly speaking" and "in the long run," and one of the economists used to talk about the "long run results."

I remember an economist who, I believe, has become quite revolutionary since, saying "What is the good of this minimum wage? What will happen will be that the miners will go away from parts of the country to where they pay the best wages. If they pay better wages in Yorkshire they will come from Durham and Wales, and then there will be unemployment in Yorkshire and the miners will be worse off." That used to appear to me to be ridiculous, and I am sure that to the average worker the arguments which have been introduced to-night from the Government Benches will appear just as absurd, because they have no real connection with practical life.

The Government try to get out of this problem by saying that it is a wages problem. It is not a wages problem. If the Government do not intend to face up to the question of a reduction of hours, let them say so and not fall back upon some imaginary thing. The speeches of my hon. Friends were really very moderate. The Motion is not a revolutionary one, and the speeches that have been made were in very moderate tones. What are we up against. We are up against that fact that during the time when we have a tremendous boom, with more workers employed in Great Britain than ever before, we have 1,750,000 idle. Some men have been out of work for so long that it has been suggested that they should be taken off the register, and some of them are young men too. There are men under 40 who have been idle for five years. We have whole areas so sunk in this state of unemployment that there is a miasma of depondency prevailing in those places.

What are the Government going to do about it? It is here proposed—and it is a common-sense proposal—to give leisure to those who have not only had no advantage from the increase of scientific and mechanical inventions, but who have actually suffered because of increased pressure. Take the case of the men who drive the omnibuses. The strain of being continually on the street must be very great indeed. There is a whole range of industries which have gained nothing. Upon those grounds this proposal merits more consideration than it has received to-day. If the State does not deliberately undertake seriously to consider the giving of leisure to those who are working and generally improving their position by bringing in those who are unemployed to help them by way of a reduction of hours, I do not know what is to happen. No wonder there is a great deal of pessimism upon what should give us increased enjoyment, namely, the increase of mechanisation.

I was talking to a great employer of labour at the beginning of this week, and he said that he thought life on the whole was better for the great mass of workers. There is a good deal to be said for that view. We do not hear so much of "rags and tatters" as formerly, but, on the other hand, there is a sense of insecurity which was not prevalent half a century ago. Years ago if we lost our jobs we could go somewhere else and get work, and if we did not get work in this country, we could get it in some other country. But all that is finished now. No one would he so stupid as to say that a reduction of hours would settle the unemployment problem. The approaches are many, and when they have all been named you have an uneasy feeling that there would be some other thing necessary. Here is one that is definite and one which the Government should consider.

The hon. Gentleman opposite has well represented the mind of the Government to-night, but I do not think that he has well represented the mind of some of the best brains behind it. There is disturbance on the benches opposite in regard to this matter, and there is certainly a disturbance outside. It is true, as the hon. Gentleman claimed, that the mind of the employer is not to-day quite what it was 25 years ago. He looks at things in a more enlightened way, and I believe that even the employer, with his sense of business ability, would require much more business ability from the Government than is evident at the present time. There is no hope as far as the Government are concerned. They are a nineteenth century government. They meet the requirements of some of the hon. Gentlemen who have spoken to-night, but it is certain that what is being refused proper consideration to-night will not only receive consideration in the future by the pressure of public opinion, but I venture to say, that the 40-hour week will be an old-fashioned suggestion by that time.

6.55 p.m.


I have listened with great interest to the even tenor of this Debate upon the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) and upon the Amendment. The Amendment, in my opinion, is an attempt to burke the clear issue of the Debate, because it approves the action of His Majesty's Government in resisting proposals which would endanger the earnings of British workers. My hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) is right in what he said. Speaking on behalf of the great Labour movement and of my people in St. Helens, the Minister and his colleagues may rest assured that we shall watch to see that wages are not reduced. At three o'clock to-morrow afternoon I am meeting a body of employers in London to discuss the institution of a 40-hour week in a certain industry. The peculiar circumstance is that this trade is making profits of £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 a year. So intense is the remarkable normal productivity of the machines used by these people that they are working a 40-hour week in many cases with a reduction of pay because the 40-hour week is not recognised. People are suffering because of the intensification of the new mechanism which we find in trade and commerce to-day.

I heard the noble speech of one of our friends on the opposite benches in which he spoke of his apprenticeship many years ago. I dare say that I am an older man than he; I remember the days to which he refers. There is always antagonism shown to workers organising and fighting for a reduction of hours of labour, but I am glad to state, as an old negotiator, that I find a distinct improvement in the minds of many employers in this country. I find an overwhelming desire to meet, if at all possible, the claim for a shorter working week. But let me get on to one very important question. I have recently been travelling through very highly mechanised factories in which the repetition work is not for one hour but for a week together, and in which girls and youths are at work, the machine doing the work on the belted principle of travel. So intense in some quarters has been the extent of nervous prostration that some of the girls on these processes, which are so mechanical and soulless, have had to be relieved for two or three hours in order to prevent a complete breakdown of their nervous system.

The case of my friends the miners is being fought as it has been fought for years. There will be no contentment in the mines until a reduction of hours of labour takes place. Speeches made by hon. Members on this side must convince all thinking Members opposite that a case has been made out and is justifiable. Let us see what would happen. We are assured that it may be difficult in some industries to bring about a reduction in hours because of the possible high level of wage costs. That may be true and, if so, the matter would become one for negotiation and there would be, if not a 40-hour week at once, a reduction of hours on a graded scale.

I met a body of employers in London about eight days ago, and there can be no argument that on the facts and figures we presented and on their profits and turnovers they could have given us wholeheartedly as a great gesture the 40-hour week demanded for the women, girls and men employed in this great trade. What was the line of their argument? Facts and figures were completely against them. Their immense profits told against them. Their only reply was that there were people in the industry who were not possibly doing quite as well as they were and who would attempt to break down the organisation of the employers in the trade. Here is my trouble. I heard the hon. Gentleman who spoke for the Government to-night use these words. If I have not got them exactly no doubt he will correct me. He said that in regard to hours of labour there had been consultation with the Ministry of Labour and there would be a White Paper issued in which the story of these discussions will presumably be told to the House. This is what I want the Government to tell us. As a comparatively new Member of Parliament I am wondering whether the Ministry of Labour has been discussing something with the Confederation of British Employers, whose voice has become monotonously automatic in regard to any improvement in working hours. I hope that the White Paper will not reveal that there has been a half-blessing or any half-agreement with the Confederation of British Employers, because if the Minister and the confederation are recommending in the White Paper a halting, frightening policy it will result in good employers who can afford to give a reduction of hours being scared by the Minister and the federation.

We realise, when we read the history of men like the Earl of Shaftesbury, that it was always unpopular to talk about reducing the hours of labour. An hon. Member said that when he was apprenticed 15 or 17 years ago they obtained the 47-hour week. They would never have got the 47-hour week in the ship-repairing trade but for the fact that the "Lusitania," much longer than 15 or 17 years ago, happened to be reconditioned in Liverpool and the men stopped work and the 47-hour week was won by the sheer might, right and determination of the men. Strikes and lockouts are objectionable in many ways. If they can be avoided by common sense and tactics they ought to be avoided. I heard several hon. Members say that they did not want Governmental interference in trade and commerce. The "Queen Mary" was built with Government interference. Beet and sugar are subsidised. These hon. Members say, "Give us all we want and we do not mind interference, but take nothing by interference." That is the policy of many employers and we resent it.

Hon. Members have talked about interference by the State in private trade and commerce. It is with regret I make this statement. I am not in favour of trade boards making conditions of labour for either young children, adult men or young women. It is a tragedy of this democracy that to compel rights for our people, to demand a decent standard of life, there has had to be trade board legislation in this country. You have been compelled to do it. You have had to step in and make employers do what common decency should have made them do. I hope that the House will reject the pettifogging Amendments. The hon. Gentleman who spoke for the Government said that the resisting of proposals which would endanger the earnings of British workers is one of their policies. I have never seen the National Government or the Tory party ever attempt to fight wage reductions. All that has ever been done is when a strike has compelled them to come in with conciliation methods. We fight wage reductions. I hope that the Amendment will get the sound drubbing which it deserves.

7.10 p.m.


I am very enthusiastic for this Resolution and all that has been said this afternoon. I agree with nearly everything that has been said on both sides of the House. If I support the Amendment it is because I feel that in that way we shall achieve the object of the Resolution better than by the Resolution itself. As a person who for long years has been lecturing for university extension work, for the Workers' Educational Association and things of that kind, I feel strongly the need of shorter hours and more leisure for the working classes. What we want more than anything else, from the social point of view, is to spread the bases of our culture so that a larger number of the population may have an interest in the best things our civilisation affords. In some respects I cannot help thinking that we are a little behind some other nations in this matter. There is the cherry blossom season of Japan, when the working classes of the great towns of that Empire come out in their thousands in the spring-time to enjoy the cherry blossoms and all that is meant by that. When I see in the great open air museums of the Scandinavian nations the way in which so large a number of people really feel an interest in the folk lore of the countryside and in the history and traditions of their own nations, I cannot help thinking that in some ways those lands are ahead of us. We do need more than anything else that our culture should spread throughout the whole population, and for that a shortening of the hours of work is extraordinarily valuable—indeed, absolutely necessary.

I was rather sorry in many ways to hear the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) take a line so antagonistic to this side of the House. I have a great respect for that part of the world, for some of my best recollections are of lecturing to miners in old university extension days some 30 years ago, when I gained a tremendous respect for those brave men and realised something of the conditions under which they have to work. Representing a purely industrial constituency and those who sent me to this House being almost entirely of the working classes, I regret more than anything a feeling of antagonism. I want to work with all who will work with me, and I feel that all these problems will not be solved by internal quarrelling, class warfare and things of that kind, but by loyal co-operation between every part of our community. When the hon. Member speaks about the speeches on this side of the House representing the atmosphere of the early nineteenth century and later says that they were very moderate, I frankly do not know what he means. If those two remarks are not antagonistic I do not know how the same thing could be said in two different ways quite so queerly.

It is a mistake to say that we are enjoying a boom. We are not. Trade is improving gradually, rather slowly; but still, on the whole, things are getting distinctly better. But I cannot agree that we are in boom conditions, nor can we say that our industries are in a state of such tremendous prosperity that there has never been anything better in days gone by. When the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street talks about conditions being bad when he first went into the mines but worse now, does he really want us to go back 30 years or whatever it is in the conditions of industry in this country? I ask the question in all sincerity. Has all the work which has been done by all the political parties been such an awful failure as that? He spoke about security then, insecurity now. It is true that in those days the great plains of America were open and it was possible for workers who were discontented at home to find a new sphere in other lands. That that is not the position at the present time is no fault of the Government. But those days will come again. A large number of our workers who cannot very well be given good employment in this land will find new homes and opportunities and build new civilisations in other lands, sharing our Flag across the sea.


I hope you go with them.


I have spent many years abroad. It was a comparative accident that brought me back to this country. We have to make a good deal of distinction between sheltered and unsheltered industries, and I feel that in sheltered industries not subject to competition on any large scale there is great scope. I have had complaints of the very long hours worked in public institutions, sometimes running up to 60 or 70 a week. That occurs in areas controlled by all political parties. We might make immediately a very real improvement there if the local bodies would see to it, in the local institutions under their control, that as far as possible the people had reasonable hours and reasonable conditions of service. There is no particular difficulty that I can see in bringing that about.

Now I come to a very difficult problem in the coal industry, in connection with foreign competition. There is no difference in any part of the House on one subject, and that is that when a law is made in this country it is rigidly enforced. Our system of inspection and our enforcement of the law is one of the strongest things about our civilisation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Question." I have not heard that questioned before. At any rate it is so in contrast with other countries. This is a rather difficult matter to talk about, because I am extremely unwilling to say anything that will reflect in any way on any foreign country. But let me tell a story of something that happened across the Channel. A cousin of mine was chaplain at an Anglican church at Mentone, and there were difficulties about the surrounding trees shading the windows of the church to such an extent as to be very inconvenient for the service. My cousin tried to put into operation the ordinary methods of getting the trees cut. There was a tremendous amount of red tape, but at a cost of something like 100 francs the trees were cut, though not very much. Next year when the problem came up again a Frenchman came to my cousin and said: "You leave this problem to me and I will manage it." My cousin was delighted to agree, and he was still more pleased to find that the trees were better cut than they had been before, and that the Frenchman told him that the cost would be two francs. "How on earth," asked my cousin, "did you get through all the red tape necessary for a sum like that?" "Oh," he replied, "a Frenchman knows what to do. I just tipped the gardener." That story has, I think, some bearing on the problem of competition between this country and others. I do not for a moment accuse any foreign country of bad faith or anything of that sort, but I do think that there is a very definite difference sometimes in the interpretation of regulations in this country and other countries. We have had a definite challenge today and I take it up. Show us the way in which hours can be materially reduced and wages maintained and the company and industry can still continue to be prosperous, and we will enthusiastically accept it. We realise on this side of the House, and it is realised on the other side, that a decent and proper wage for the working class is the first charge on industry and not the last. Therefore, I appeal to the House to come together with enthusiasm and try as far as possible to shorten hours and to improve the conditions of our working classes, but I honestly believe that that can be done far more effectively in the words of the Amendment than in the words of the Resolution.

7.25 p.m.


I am not going to take the hon. Member to where the cherry blossom grows or to end up by cutting down the trees. I realise from his lucid speech how much sympathy he has with the project of the shortening of hours of labour, but he began to build barriers that have to be climbed before that shortening can be accomplished. We are taking the logical line of bringing forward our main objectives and showing the advantages that will accrue from the shortening of the working week. As a fellow county Member in Staffordshire I am sure that my hon. Friend appreciates as I do the effect of the newer mechanised processes in the Midlands to- day.


Hear, hear.


He realises the effect on the physical energy that has to be exercised in all the operations of our industrial life. The effect of this rationalisation, this intensified work, on the individual, is very considerable, and at the same time it has directly brought greater profits and advantages to the employers. In seeking the logical conclusion we ask that the worker should

be given the advantage of a reduction of hours as a recompense. This intensified work is having its effect on the immediate health of the worker and also on the ultimate period of life during which he can be an effective worker in his industry. That equally applies not only to those who are entering into industry for a lifetime but to the younger people and the female operatives who expect to be in industry only for a few years. It is also having its effects on the educational possibilities and leisure of those engaged in industry. It is because we believe that the things we advocate in our Resolution are desirable and necessary for the maintenance of a better civilisation that we seek to incorporate in our industrial life the application as a maximum of a 40-hour week.

It has been argued that it is not the best method of dealing with the problem by pressing for Government action, national and international, and that it should be left to voluntary negotiations between the organised industrial movement and the employers' associations. It may be suggested that that is the feasible course and that by dividing your energies you can conquer, but those who make that plea have very little understanding of the structure of the trade union movement, which not only specialises in industry but frequently specialises in occupations. To carry out negotiations in the way suggested would mean unlimited energies being exercised in that direction, and those negotiations would riot bring about the maximum of settlement. We believe that there is an obligation on the Government to bring forward legislation that would give the workers greater opportunities of leisure for educational development and for living a healthier and happier life, individually and collectively.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 131; Noes, 215.

Division No. 2.] AYES. [7.29 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Barnes, A. J. Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) Barr, J. Buchanan, G.
Adams, D. (Consett) Batey, J. Burke, W. A.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Bellenger, F. Cape, T.
Adamson, W. M. Benson, G. Charleton, H. C.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Bevan, A. Chater, D.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Broad, F. A. Cocks, F. S.
Banfield, J. W. Brooke, W. Cove, W. G.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Kirkwood, D. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)
Daggar, G. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Dalton, H. Lathan, G. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Davles, S. O. (Merthyr) Lawson, J. J. Rothschild, J. A. de
Day, H. Lee, F. Rowson, G.
Dobbie, W. Leonard, W. Seely, Sir H. M.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Leslie, J. R. Sexton, T. M.
Ede, J. C. Logan, D. G. Shinwell, E.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwelity) Lunn, W. Short, A.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) McEntee, v. La T. Silverman, S. S.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. McGhee, H. G. Simpson, F. B.
Foot, D. M. MacLaren, A. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Frankel, D. MacNeill, Weir, L. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees. (K'ly)
Gallacher, W. Mainwaring, W. H. Sorensen, R. W.
Gardner, B. W. Mander, G. le M. Stephen, C.
Garro Jones, G. M. Marshall, F. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Mathers, G. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Maxton, J. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Messer, F. Thorns, W.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Milner, Major J. Thurtle, E.
Grenfell, D. R. Montague, F. Viant, S. P.
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Morrison, Rt. Hn. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.) Walkden, A. G.
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Walker, J.
Groves, T. E. Naylor, T. E. Watkins, F. C.
Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Oliver, G. H. Welsh, J. C.
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Owen, Major G. Westwood, J.
Hardle, G. D. Parker, J. White, H. Graham
Harris, Sir P. A. Parkinson, J. A. Whiteley, W.
Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Wilkinson, Ellen
Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Potts, J. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Jagger, J. Price, M. P. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Pritt, D. N. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Jenkins, Sir w. (Neath) Quibeil, D. J. K. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
John, W. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Ridley, G. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Kelly, W. T. Riley, B. Mr. G. Macdonald and Mr. Tinker.
Kirby, B. V. Ritson, J
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Harbord, A.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P, G. Craddock, Sir R. H. Harvey, Sir G.
Albery, Sir I. J. Craven-Ellis, W. Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle)
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd) Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.
Anderson, Sir A. Gariett (C. of Ldn.) Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Croom-Johnson, R. P. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan.
Apsley, Lord Cross, R. H. Holdsworth, H.
Assheton, R. Crossley, A. C. Holmes, J. S.
Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover) Crowder, J. F. E. Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.
Atholl, Duchess of Cruddas, Col. B. Hopkinson, A.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C. Howitt, Dr. A. B.
Balfour, Capt. H. (Isle of Thanet) Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. De Chair, S S. Hudson, R. S. (Southport)
Baxter, A. Beverley Denman, Hon. R. D. Hulbert, N. J.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Doland, G. F. Hume, Sir G. H.
Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury) Dower, Capt. A. V. G. Hunter, T.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsnt'h) Drewe, C. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.
Birchall, Sir J. D. Dugdale, Major T. L. Jackson, Sir H.
Boulton, W. W. Duggan, H. J. James, Wing-Commander A. W.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Duncan, J. A. L. Joel, D. J. B.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Dunglass, Lord Keeling, E. H.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W. Dunne, P. R. R. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)
Boyce, H. Leslie Eastwood, J. F. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)
Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B. Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Kimball, L.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Ellis, Sir G. Lamb, Sir J. Q.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Elliston, G. S. Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Emery, J. F. Latham, Sir P.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Entwistle, C. F. Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Fleming, E. L. Leech, Dr. J. W.
Bull, B. B. Fox, Sir G. W. G. Lees-Jones, J.
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Ganzoni, Sir J. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Goldie, N. B. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.
Carver, Major W. H. Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Levy, T.
Cary, R. A. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Lewis, O.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Liddall, W. S.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br. W.) Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Liewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.
Channon, H. Gridley, Sir A. B. Lloyd, G. W.
Chorlton, A. E. L. Grimston, R. V. Loftus, P. C.
Clarke, F. E. Gritten, W. G. Howard Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead) Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E (Drake) Lumley, Capt. L. R.
Clarry, Sir Reginald Guinness, T. L. E. B. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)
Clydesdale, Marcuess of Guy, J. C. M. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Hannah, I. C. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Hannon, Sir P. J. H. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.
McKie, J. H. Pownall, Sir Assheton Spender-Clay, Lt.-Cl. Rt. Hn. H. H.
Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees) Raikes, H. V. A. M. Spens, W. P.
Makins, Brig.-Gen. E. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Manninaham-Buller, Sir M. Ramsden, Sir E. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon H. D. R. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M. Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Stuart, Lord C. Crichton. (N'thw'h)
Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Remer, J. R. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.) Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Ropner, Colonel L. Sutcllffe, H.
Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'derry) Tasker, Sir R. I.
Mitcheson, Sir G. G. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge) Tate, Mavis C.
Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.) Rowlands, G. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury) Train, Sir J.
Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Salmon, Sir I. Turton, R. H.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Clr'nc'st'r) Samuel, Sir A. M. (Farnham) Wakefield, W. W.
Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. Savery, Servington Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H. Scott, Lord William Ward, Lieut.-col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Selley, H. R. Warrender, Sir V.
O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Shakespeare, G. H. Waterhouse, Captain C.
O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree) Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar) Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Orr-Ewinq, I. L. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lt'st) Windsor-Cllve, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Patrick, C. M. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D. Withers, Sir J. J.
Peake, O. Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich) Womersley, Sir W. J.
Penny, Sir G. Smith, L. W. (Hallam) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Perkins, w. R. D. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Petherick, M. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Pickthorn, K. W. M. Southby, Comdr. A. R. J. Mr. Stuart Russell and Squadron.
Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L. Leader Wright.

Question put, "That the proposed words be there added."

The House divided: Ayes, 203; Noes, 124.

Division No. 3.] AYES. [7.38 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Croom-Johnson, R. P. Hunter, T.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Cross, R. H. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.
Albery, Sir I. J. Crossley, A. C. Jackson, Sir H.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd) Crowder, J. F. E. James, Wing-Commander A. W.
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Cruddas, Col. B. Joel, D. J. B.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)
Apsley, Lord De Chair, S. S. Keeling, E. H.
Aske, Sir R. W. Doland, G. F. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)
Assheton, R. Dower, Capt. A. V. G. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)
Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover) Drewe, C. Lamb, Sir J. O.
Atholl, Duchess of Dugdale, Major T. L. Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Duggan, H. J. Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)
Balfour, Capt. H. H.(Isle of Thanet) Duncan, J. A. L. Leech, Dr. J. W.
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Dunglass, Lord Lees-Jones, J.
Baxter, A. Beverley Dunne, P. R. R. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Eastwood, J. F. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.
Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury) Ellis, Sir G. Levy, T.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Elliston, G. S. Lewis, O.
Beit, Sir A. L. Emery, J. F. Liddall, W. S.
Birchall, Sir J. D. Entwistle, C. F. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col J. J.
Boulton, W. W. Fleming, E. L. Lloyd, G. W.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vanslttart Fox, Sir G. W. G. Loftus, P. C.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Ganzoni, Sir J. Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W. Goldie, N. B. Lumley, Capt. L. R.
Boyce, H. Leslie Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)
Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Gridley, Sir A. B. McKle, J. H.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Grimston, R. V. Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, w.) Gritten, W. G. Howard Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.
Bull, B. B. Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Drake) Manningham-Buller, Sir M.
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Guinness, T. L. E. B. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Guy, J. C. M. Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.
Carver, Major W. H. Hannah, I. C. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)
Cary, R. A. Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Harbord, A. Mitcheson, Sir G. G.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br. W.) Harvey, Sir G. Morris, J. P. (Salford. N.)
Channon, H. Hastam, H. C. (Horncastle) Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.
Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinttead) Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)
Clarke, F. E. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cir'nc'st'r)
Clarry, Sir Reginald Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan. Muirhead, Lt-Col. A. J.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Holdsworth, H. Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. j. Holmes, J. S. Nicolson, Hon. H. G.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. O'Connor, Sir Terence J.
Craddock, Sir R. H. Hopkinson, A. O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Craven-Ellis, W. Hudson, R. S. (Southport) Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G.
Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Hulbert, N. J. Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Hume, Sir G. H. Patrick, C. M.
Peake, O. Samuel, Sir A. M. (Farnham) Tasker, Slr R. I.
Penny, Sir G. Savery, Servlngton Tate, Mavis C.
Perkins, W. R. D. Scott, Lord William Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Petherick, M. Selley, H. R. Train, Sir J.
Pickthorn, K. W. M. Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree) Turton, R. H.
Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar) Wakefield, W. W.
Pownall, Sir Assheton Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lf'st) Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
Raikes, H. V. A. M. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich) Warrender, Sir V.
Ramsden, Sir E. Smith, L. W. (Hallam) Waterhouse, Captain C.
Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Southby, Comdr. A. R. J. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Remer, J. R. Spender-Clay, Lt.-CI. Rt. Hn. H. H. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Spens, W. P. Withers, Sir J. J.
Ropner, Colonel L. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde) Womersley, Sir W. J.
Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'nderry) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge) Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Rowlands, G. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F. Mr. Stuart Russell and Squndron-
Salmon, Sir I. Sutcifffe, H. Leader Wright.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Grenfell, D. R. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Adams, D. (Consett) Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Potts, J.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Price, M. P.
Adamson, W. M. Groves, T. E. Pritt, D. N.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaen) Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Quibell, D. J. K.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Banfield, J. W. Hardle, G. D. Ridley, G.
Barnes, A. J. Harris, Sir P. A. Riley, B.
Barr, J. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Ritson, J
Batey, J. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)
Bellenger, F. Jagger, J. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Benson, G. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Bevan, A. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Rothschild, J. A. de
Broad, F. A. John, W. Rowson, G.
Brooke, W. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Seely, Sir H. M.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Kelly, W. T. Sexton, T. M.
Buchanan, G. Kirby, B. V. Shinwell, E.
Burke, W. A. Kirkwood, D. Short, A.
Cape, T. Lathan, G. Silverman, S. S.
Charieton, H. C. Lawson, J. J. Simpson, F. B.
Chater, D. Lee, F. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Cocke, F. S. Leonard, W. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees. (K'ly)
Cove, W. G. Leslie, J. R. Sorensen, R. W.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Logan, D. G. Stephen, C.
Daggar, G. Lunn, W. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) McEntee, V. La T. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Day, H. McGhee, H. G. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Dobble, W. MacLaren, A. Thorne, W.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) MacNeill, Weir, L. Vlant, S. P.
Ede, J. C. Mainwaring, W. H. Walkden, A. G.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Mander, G. le M. Walker, J.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Marshall, F. Watkins, F. C.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Mathers, G. Welsh, J. C.
Foot, D. M. Maxton, J. Westwood, J.
Frankel, D. Milner, Major J. White, H. Graham
Gallacher, W. Montague, F. Whiteley, W.
Gardner, B. W. Morrison, Rt. Hn. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.) Wilkinson, Ellen
Garro Jones, G. M. Naylor, T. E. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
George, Megan Llovd (Anglesey) Oliver, G. H. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Owen, Major G. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Parker, J.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Parkinson, J. A. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Mr. C. Macdonald and Mr. Tinker.

Main Question, as amended, proposed.

Several HON. MEMBERS rose

It being after Half-past Seven o'Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.