§ 7.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Paling
I beg to move:That this House, recognising the claim of the worker to benefit from the increased productivity of modern industry and realising also the urgent necessity for absorbing many of the present unemployed, calls for immediate measures for securing a substantial reduction in working hours.If we look into past history in relation to the question of hours of work in industry we find that there have been some great agitations on the subject in this country. When it was the custom to work 11 and 12, and even 14, hours a day, an agitation sprang up in this country for a 10-hour day. A tremendous amount of enthusiasm was aroused by that agitation. Then we had the agitation for the 8-hour day, and we succeeded in achieving that reform for a large number of the workers in industry. But even today a great number of workers have not yet achieved an 8-hour day, as I hope to prove before I conclude. We believe that the time has come to go a step further even than the 8-hour day. We believe that the time has come to ask for and to achieve a 40-hour week. In view of the increase in production, in view of mechanisation, in view of unemployment. in view of the need for education for leisure and for physical fitness and even as a matter of social justice, it is time that working hours were further shortened and that a 40-hour week was put into general operation.
It is interesting to find that for the last i6 years there has been practically no movement in this country in relation to hours of labour. Immediately after the War there were big reductions, particularly for miners and some others, but as a matter of fact, if we look at the figures given in the "Ministry of Labour Gazette," we find that since 1921 the number of workpeople who have had their hours actually increased is approximately 1,660,000, and the number who have had their hours reduced is just over 1,000,000. There has actually been an increase in working hours of over 4,000,000 per week, and a reduction of about 1,500,000. Those are rather remarkable figures. I think the 1023 general impression is that there has been a tendency, particularly during the last few years, for the hours of labour to be reduced, and there have been certain cases, but the figures that I have given prove that during the last 16 years there has actually been a fairly big increase. That is interesting too from the point of view that I should think, though I have no actual evidence to prove it, that there is no other period of 16 years in industrial history when such tremendous progress has been made in productivity as during the last 16 years; and that increase has been particularly noticeable during the last six to eight years, yet in spite of that fact, instead of having a reduction in hours of work in this country, we have actually had an increase.
I would like to mention the case of the miners, and here is something that has no parallel in history. We succeeded in getting, towards the end of 1919, a 7hour day. We had a 7½-hour day for some but an 8-hour day for the biggest proportion imposed in 1926 by the help of the Government, and I would like the Movers of the Amendment that is on the Paper to note that fact when they are asking that this question should be settled by agreement. Let them note that when hours have been increased it has been done by legislation brought in by their own Government. If we examine the record of the party opposite, not only in 1926–27, when this was done, but at Geneva we find that they have no desire to put legislation into operation for reducing hours, but when it comes to increasing hours, the present Government and similar Governments before them have had no hesitation in using legislation to that end.
§ Sir Isidore Salmon
Is it or is it not a fact that the Labour Government themselves, in connection with the coal mining industry, found that it was not possible to have a 7-hour day, but that they had to have a 7½-hour day.
§ Mr. Paling
I have said this before, and I say it again. Always remember that the Labour Government could do nothing during their term of office except with the help of the Liberals on the one hand or the Tories on the other, and that everything that we did was conditioned by that fact, but in spite of that, whereas the Tory Government, with the power 1024 to do as they wished, imposed an increase of hours, the Labour Government actually put into operation a decrease of hours and brought the 8-hour day down to a 7½-hour day. If the hon. Member will encourage his Government to do even as well as the Labour Government, we will not have much fault to find with him. Having got an 8-hour day in 1926, the mining industry then came to the all-in 7½-hour day in 1931, and since then a Convention has been adopted at Geneva for 7¾ hours, including winding time. At the present time miners work 7½ hours a day, plus one winding time, which is on an average half-an-hour, so that at present your miner is actually working an 8-hour day down in the pit.
I suggest to hon. Members opposite, and particularly those who have put down the Amendment, that it is time something was done in that regard. In any event, if the Government cannot adopt the International Labour Office Convention for a 40-hour week in general, it is not asking much to ask them to adopt the Convention regarding miners for a 7¾-hour day, bank to bank. They have no hesitation in putting an hour on, but when it means taking a quarter of an hour off, it is asking too much for this reactionary Tory Government. We of the mining community have had a pretty raw deal since 1926, and we have had an equally raw deal in the matter of hours since 1931, when this Government came in, and I ask the hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour to have some regard to this question of hours and at least to see whether he cannot spring this quarter of an hour. I hoped, when he came to the Labour Ministry, he would bring some imagination to it, but I am not sure that he is not as unimaginative and solid and just as spoiled as any other member of the Government. Let him get at this mining question and put it into operation. The Government have a very bad record in regard to miners up to the present, so let him attend to the matter.
The general impression in this country is that an 8-hour day is the law, but that is the case with regard to only a comparatively few workpeople. In the annual report of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops, on page 60, it says: 1025''Laundries have been found working fairly regularly from 50 to 55 hours a week….Long hours have been found in brick making, but inquiries in one district showed that one well organised firm was able to keep to a 47½-hour week, while others in the same area thought 50½ or 56 hours necessary.There are letterpress printing firms in all parts of the country which work considerably mere than 48 hours….In the Midlands there has been pressure, not only in the metal trades, but in the leather, bakelite, and sveral other industries, and work up to 50 or even 60 hours a week has been fairly common.There has been much employment in the woollen and worsted trades up to 52 and 54 hours a week, but in the cotton trade 48 hours has been usual….In one garage a boy was employed regularly for a 7-day week. After prosecution, at which a fine of £2 was imposed, his hours were reduced, but it is understood that Sunday employment will be resumed as soon as he is 18….In a small unregistered factory in which wireless aerials were made, a visit paid after receipt of a complaint disclosed some very serious cases of illegal employment, boys of 14 to 17 years of age having worked as many as 80 hours a week. The normal period of employment for one boy of 17 during the previous six months had been 7.30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays, 7.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The boys had been brought from the distressed areas and appeared to have been willing to work the long hours for the sake of extra pay.I wonder whether the Mover of the Amendment will be willing to let that stop without legislation and have nothing done unless it can be done by agreement. Unfortunately, in many of these cases, there is no one to make agreements with, and if the hon. Member and his friends will not realise their responsibilities as legislators to look after these people, I think it is time they got out and let somebody else do it for them. My hon. Friend the Member for Sedgfield (Mr. Leslie) in the Debate last year spoke about hundreds of thousands of shop assistants working 60 or more hours per week. I understand that a committee inquired into this business in 1931 and reported in favour of a 48-hour week being made compulsory, but nothing has been done in regard to that. The recommendations of the committee have been ignored, and the only contribution the Government can make towards this question is to go to Geneva and spoil what other people want to do there. My hon. Friend the Member for Brigg (Mr. Quibell), who moved the previous Motion this evening, gave information in this House about a man in his division, at 1026 Scunthorpe, I think it was, working 60, 70, 80 and go hours a week, and in one classical case men were working 116 hours a week. In addition, there are countless others, domestic servants, catering trade employés, people in hospitals, and so on. I would like to bring that to the notice of the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, and in most of these cases there is nobody to look after them, and it is our job as legislators to do it or to see that it is done. I hope that when we have finished this Debate the hon. Member and his friends will see fit to withdraw the Amendment and to let the Motion go through.
I come now to another feature of long hours. A few months ago a report was issued entitled "Report of the Departmental Committee on the Hours of Employment of Young Persons in Certain Occupations." I am told that there are about 125,000 of these young persons between 14 and 18, and that practically three-fifths of those 125,000 are between 14 and 16. Here is what is happening in this country at the present time with regard to van boys:Of the 12,580 van boys whose cases were investigated by the Juvenile Advisory Employment Committees, 5,733 (approximately 45 per cent.) were found to work over 48 hours a week. Of these, 4,170 worked up to 54 hours, 1,295 up to 60 hours, 205 up to 66 hours, and 63 over 66 hours. These hours are in all cases exclusive of the average intervals for meals, which are taken as amounting to six hours a week.Here is another instance:An investigation made by the Manchester University Settlement into the hours of 27 van boys in Manchester showed hours of work ranging from 41 to 70 a week, excluding meal intervals. In addition various witnesses reported to us cases of van boys who worked up to 70 and even 90 hours a week.Here is a case from the laundry trade:The representatives of employers in the laundry trade suggested that the limit should be 54 hours, but the representative of the mineral water trade was opposed to any regulation which would prevent the van boy from working the same hours as the driver whom he accompanies.The driver works 11 hours. What chance is there of getting an agreement in such cases? They do not want even 54 hours a week. I wonder what the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment would do with cases like that. Here is a passage dealing with errand boys and porters:2,431 were found to he working for 48 to 54 hours a week, and 230 for more than 54 hours.''1027 Here is a passage with regard to the dyeing and cleaning trade:The representative of the dyeing and cleaning trade stated that boy messengers were employed in collecting and delivering parcels of work, and worked from 50 to 54 hours a week.The witness on behalf of the Newspaper Proprietors Association stated:in one firm employing 81 boys, 16 finished work at varying times between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m.In the section of the Report dealing with page boys it is stated:The information obtained by committees for juvenile employment outside London shows that out of the 1,627 page boys and attendants in hotels whose employment was investigated, 227 were working gross hours (inclusive of intervals) of 66 to 72, and 334 gross hours of over 72…. The committees in London did not distinguish between page boys and attendants in hotels and those in cinemas. But it will be seen that of the 8,417 page boys and attendants whose employment was investigated no less than 7,030 were reported to work over 72 hours a week including meal and rest intervals.I want to know what the Minister is prepared to do about these cases. He goes to Geneva and he is not prepared to put into operation the 40-hour week. He wants to leave it to negotiation. In the last speech made by the Minister on this question in June he spoke about men being in chains, and he thought that if we did anything by legislation on hours of work we should be putting industry in chains. I wonder whether he thinks that these children are in chains. Three-fifths of them are boys and girls between 14–15—little more than babies. There ought to be another solution for them; they ought to be at school. We ought not to have to ask for a reduction of hours for them. What are hon. Members opposite prepared to do about them? Are they prepared to see whether it is practicable, as the Amendment suggests, to leave them to some negotiations with industry? Is it not our responsibility as Members of this House to see that this condition of things is wiped out? When I came to the House this morning I saw a newspaper placard "White slavery in London." The words ought to be emblazoned from the housetops, "Child slavery in Great Britain for the sake of making profits."
When hon. Members opposite are talking about the impossibility of putting into operation a 40-hour week, or even a 1028 48-hour week, and the undesirability of putting legislation into operation so as to leave industry free to solve these things itself, let them keep in mind, if not the adult, at least these children between 14 and 18 who are being so mercilessly exploited in the interests of profit. This country used to pride itself on being the pioneer on this question of good conditions of work and short hours of labour. We have lost our prestige since then. This Government's international record is about as bad as it could be in regard to questions of peace and war, but I am not sure whether their record in regard to what they have done at Geneva at the International Labour Office would not, if it were examined, prove to be just as bad. Instead of being a pioneer now we can hardly be called a bad follower of other countries.
When we are talking about a 40-hour week and the necessity for reducing the 8-hour day we are not asking for something of which there is no experience or for something extreme. We are not guilty of even good Left-Wingism. We are asking for something about which there is a lot of evidence from other countries and in which other countries have left us behind. New Zealand, for instance, has put into operation a 40-hour week in factories and a 44-hour week in shops. Is there any reason why we should be behind one of our Dominions? While I am talking about shops, let me say to the credit of some people in this country that I understand the Co-operative Society has a 48-hour week for its assistants and in the north actually a 44-hour week. I understand that there are some of the biggest shops in London which have also a working week for their assistants of 44 to 48 hours.
If they can do it why cannot others do it, and if others will not do it why are they not made to do it? If they have had all these years the opportunity in face of increasing productivity, of the social conscience which exists on this question, and of every encouragement and they will not do it, it is time somebody started to make them and to put legislation into operation in order to achieve it. France has a 40-hour week. I expect somebody will ask me to look at their difficulties, but after they have finished with them I have no doubt that a million workers will come out with the 1029 40-hour week and most of the benefits they have enjoyed in the last couple of years will remain. Belgium has a 40-hour week in certain cases; and Czechoslovakia, which is not always looked upon as a pioneer, has 750 factories working a 40-hour week and 1,500 factories working even less.
We have plenty of examples to follow, and we can find examples at home where the 40-hour week has actually been put into operation and been proved a success. I have scores of examples in the literature before me, but I will confine myself to three or four. In June, 1934, Boots Pure Drug Company introduced in their factory at Nottingham a 5-day week in place of 5½ days without increase in daily hours or reduction of pay, and 5,000 workers were affected. In December of that year it was announced that the experiment had been a complete success and that as long as the co-operation of all concerned continued to be given there would be no need to revert to the 5½-day week. In May, 1935, Mr. G. L. Pilkington reported the successful operation of a 44-hour week adopted by the St. Helens Plate and Sheet Glass Industrial Council in August, 1933. This involved a 10 per cent. decrease in hours without wage reduction. There was an increase in the number of workers of 8.4 per cent. and of total output 15 per cent., while value of output per man rose by 11.4 per cent.
If hon. Members who do not agree about this question will have some regard to the history of the reduction of hours since the opening of the industrial revolution they will find that the same thing has happened in every case. It is said about an old French family that they never learned anything nor forgot anything, and that certainly applies to this Government. In June, 1936, Lever Brothers and Joseph Watson and Sons, soap manufacturers, decided to operate a 5-day week without reduction in wages. In February, 1936, Lingford and Sons, Bishop Auckland, announced that they had operated a 5-day 40-hour week without reduction in wages successfully for a year, and saw no reason to return to a 6-day week. The staff had become happier, healthier and more efficient.
What more do the Minister and the Government want? What are the Government afraid of? They issued a White 1030 Paper some months ago giving a report of conversations that occurred between the Ministry of Labour and employers, and the employers laid it down that they would have nothing to do with the International Labour Office Convention for a 40-hour week. They were willing to talk, as they always are, but they laid it down that they would have nothing to do with it. The Government, like toe dog in the advertisement, listened to their master's voice and obeyed it, as they did in the Budget when the financiers kicked and the Chancellor crawled out of a nasty situation and apologised to the House; as they did on the Coal Mines Bill last year, when the President of the Board of Trade had the nasty experience of introducing a Bill from which the three main principles had been withdrawn, for the coalowners had spoken and the Government again had to listen to their master's voice. That is the trouble behind all this business. No set of industrialists in this or any other country have had a better set of servants in a legislative assembly who would obey their will than the industrialists of this country have had in this Government since 1931.
We are told that we cannot afford a 40-hour week. I have tried to indicate that people in other countries have afforded it and have found that nothing terrible has happened as a result, and that individual industries in this country have afforded it without terrible results. History teaches us that nothing terrible does happen. I have been looking to-day at a Fabian pamphlet. I notice that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a diligent reader of Fabian pamphlets, for he has quoted them. I read them, too, for they provide some useful information. The only thing in which I can find comfort to-day is that Members of the Government read Fabian pamphlets, for it may some day have some effect on them and teach them wisdom.
The pamphlet to which I refer gives the distribution of national income between four factors—wages, salaries, interest and profits, and rent. I find that in 1929 these four factors took £3,553,000,000 of the national income, and the wages portion of that was £1,486,000,000, or 41.8 per cent. of the whole, 59 per cent. going to the other three factors of salaries, interest and profits, and rent. And they say, "We cannot afford it." More than 1031 £2,000,000,000 went to those three factors and £1,400,000,000 to the workpeople, that is, those who produced the lot. I suggest to hon. Members opposite, and to the Minister in particular, that there is room there for adjusting the question of hours if an alteration cannot be effected in any other way. The later figures are even more remarkable. In 1935 the amount distributed among those four factors was £3,745,000,000, a rise of nearly £200,000,000. Labour's share was £1,520,000,000, or 40.5 per cent. In spite of the talk of the workers being better off their share was, therefore, less in proportion to the amount produced than it was in 1929. The rent and interest and profits share went up from £1,123,000,000 in 1929 to £1,288,000,000, showing an increase of £165,000,000 over what they received in 1929. The workers' proportion of that was £34,000,000.
When hon. Members opposite talk about our not being able to afford to shorten the hours of work I ask them to have regard to that point of view. The working people are not getting a fair deal in that respect. It is time we had not only a shortening of hours, because there is no question of not being able to afford it, as these figures prove, but began to talk about a large increase in wages. If, in so short a time, salaries, profit and rent can increase by that enormous sum, it is time more money went into the pockets of the wage earners and that some of that enormous sum was used also to reduce the hours of labour, if no other way of achieving that end can be found.
I will say a word next about another feature of this business, the increase of mechanisation. Thousands, hundreds of thousands, of workers to-day work under conditions which necessitate a shorter working week and a shorter working day. That is needed particularly in pits. When I worked in the pits a good many years ago machinery there was almost unknown. Since then there has been an enormous increase in the use of machinery. The report of the Inspector of Mines this year shows that the amount of coal mined to-day by machines is 55 per cent., as against 8 per cent. in 1913—that is coal cutting machinery—and in addition there are coal conveyors for carrying the coal after it has been cut. The use of coal conveyors is increasing as 1032 rapidly as it is possible to imagine anything increasing. In 1928 only 12 per cent. of the total output of coal was conveyed by machinery, and in 1936 it was 48 per cent. Do hon. Members opposite understand what that means to the workers? Working in a pit was bad enough before, but it is infinitely worse with the speeding up from mechanisation. From that angle alone a big reduction of hours is required. We thought 7 hours a day was good enough for the miners in 1921, and they still have several half-hours above that, and there is this increased mechanisation. What are hon. Members opposite going to do about that? Are they going to leave that question to ordinary negotiations between employers and employed? Has not this House any responsibility in the matter?
This is not the position in the mines alone, because in some of the factories where the mass production system is in operation the man or the woman is a mere machine, a cog in the wheel, an automaton. The workman's pride in his work has gone. There is now no art or craft about a lot of the work. If it is necessary to have these methods in order to increase production, some regard ought to be paid to shortening the hours of work of the unfortunate people compelled to work under such conditions, and I shall be glad to hear what hon. Members opposite have to say about that aspect of the question. Then there is the feature of increased production. What are the Government going to do about that? Production is increasing by leaps and bounds in nearly every industry, but the workers have got precious little in the way of increased wages as a result of this increased production, and are they to be denied any improvement in working hours? Are all the benefits of mass production, of all this new scientific technique, of all this new control that we have over production to go to the drawers of rent and profit and interest, and are workers to be excluded from any benefit? Up to the present the workers have been excluded from such benefits, especially in the last few years and particularly during the lifetime of this Government. I hope that the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment and the Minister are going to tell us what they propose to do in this matter.
Then there is the question of unemployment. Might it not help to solve 1033 the problem of unemployment if we reduced the hours of labour? It might make some contribution. There has been a great deal of talk in this House about a coming slump, although I think we now call it, "a recession of trade" instead of using such a nasty word as slump. It will probably come. We on this side think it is inevitable, indeed we know that you cannot avoid it under capitalism. Has any regard been paid to shortening the hours of labour from that point of view? Everybody admits that the workers ought to have increased leisure to-day. What about providing increased leisure by reducing the hours of labour? The 40-hour week would make a very big contribution towards giving that leisure. We talk about the need for education. As I go about London I see bills posted up by the London County Council telling us of the opportunities which exist for education in night schools and evening schools for boys and girls who are at work. Can we expect any of those 125,000 referred to in the report I have quoted to go to a night school? Can we expect the hundreds of thousands of shop assistants and those engaged in the catering trade—I see that the representative of the catering trade has gone—who work such long hours to take advantage of these opportunities for education?
Then there is the physical fitness campaign—another stunt of the Government. I am all in favour of physical fitness, but by Jove, when a fellow has worked 48, 54, 60 or 66 or 70 hours a week —some children work those hours—he has not much time to go in for physical fitness campaigns, he wants to go to bed. Hon. Members opposite demand better conditions for their children than that, and I am not blaming them, but if they demand it for their own children, why cannot they have the decency to see that other children get it? If the Government cannot give us the 40-hour week, if that is too much to ask of this reactionary and tired Government, who have been pioneers in nothing except reaction, at least they might do something for those people who have to work the abnormally long hours to which I have referred. The Government ought not to sit there contented with the argument that we have only to leave things alone and they will come right. They do not come right. We on this side shall not leave things 1034 alone, and we will not leave the Government alone. We do not want to fight in this way, but we want to impress upon the Government the necessity for a shortening of hours, and to bring it about in combination, if we can. We realise the opportunities which becoming a Member of Parliament gives us to rectify all these wrongs. In view of all this I hope that hon. Members opposite will withdraw their Amendment, as they did the previous Amendment, and agree that the time is now ripe for a big reduction of hours, and use the opportunities there are to secure justice for those who have not received it up to the present time.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Sexton
I have the greatest pleasure in seconding this Motion, which has been so forcibly presented by my hon. Friend. I am glad to do so for two special reasons, the first being that the Motion puts forward a fine project. What finer project can there be than to shorten the hours of toil and to bring joy and health and happiness to the workers of this country? Secondly, I am glad to do so because 11 years ago, in 1926, the Barnard Castle Division which I now represent had as its representative a Conservative Member who spoke in favour of increasing the hours of work for miners. I am standing up now to try to remove that stain on the fair name of Barnard Castle, which was for so long represented by a very eminent Member, the late Arthur Henderson. On every occasion when miners have spoken to me about the lengthening of hours in 1926 they have asked me to try to undo what was done by that Conservative Member in 1926, and so I am a proud man tonight, because I have been able to do it in seconding this Motion.
I asked what finer project there could be than reducing the hours of work, of arduous toil, and bringing happiness to our people. I know that in the Middle Ages it was necessary to work long hours, because man was then wrestling with nature. Man had to use his muscles; he could use only his muscles to get out of nature sufficient to live upon. Since then industry has developed from the era of hand labour to the era of power labour. In those days the forces of nature had not been harnessed, we were not making use of the power of falling water, of steam and of electricity. Now 1035 we have machines, and surely, seeing that the machines have been made by the workers, and indeed have very often been invented by them, they ought to receive the greatest benefits from them. Surely the wheels of man's inventions ought to make the wheels of life run more smoothly.
The toil of past days was perhaps more arduous, but it was more varied. In those old days the man was master of his own fate. He owned his implements of toil, and not only the implements but the products of his toil. His occupation was therefore varied. If he was a craftsman who had a bit of land he could go to it and still further vary his employment. The change was as good as a rest. Even his long hours were not so arduous as working hours are to-day. My hon. Friend has said that work was more interesting in those old days because the craftsman first of all had his vision. Then, with tools in his hands, he saw that vision coming to reality before his eyes as a chair or a piece of furniture, for example, and as it grew before his eyes he had the joy of the craftsman which is lacking in this mechanical age.
In those days when man wrestled with Nature, on the very few occasions when the workers got together on their Mayday festival they always looked forward to the wonderful age which we have now, the golden age, the age of the machine which was to produce everything. What do we find? When we look around today, we see that poverty still exists, in spite of machinery and of the coming of the golden age of the dreams of the prophets. The same poverty exists, even just outside the walls of this very House. You do not need to go very far to find it. Modern labour may be less laborious, although that is debatable, but it is certainly more monotonous, and if it is monotonous it is more wearing to the nerves. I wonder whether hon. Members have seen the film "Modern Times," that wonderful satire—screwing nuts hour after hour; pulling levers hour after hour. Because of this monotony in the present mechanised system I say there should be fewer hours of work per day and fewer days of work per week.
Modern labour is not only more monotonous but is more uninteresting. The completed article is never seen. A 1036 man pulls his lever or screws his nuts and he has not the joy of the craftsman. He becomes a mere cog in the machine. Yet the machines have increased production, and the potentiality of productivity is far greater. It has never been realised yet. My father was a shoemaker and I remember that when I was a boy it took him a day to make a pair of shoes. Now we can make hundreds per day. If he were to come back from the dead and I told him of this, he would say: "Then there will be no children running about barefoot if you have increased your powers of production so much." Yet what do we find under the present system of society? We find bare-footed children, and men and women going about in the Special Areas with worn-out shoes because they cannot replace them. Because man has increased productivity there should be fewer hours of work for the men employed. Man has become merged into the machine. There is no need for the worker to be part of the machine for all the working hours of his day and of his night.
Shortening the hours of labour would mean that the worker would become less of a machine and more of a man. As has been pointed out time and time again, the only cure for unemployment, the one sure cure—although I have heard many statesmen say there is no cure for it—is set out in the Motion; shorten the hours of work. That will give employment to people who have too much leisure and leisure to those who have too much work. The leisure secured can be spent in regaining the old spirit and joy in craftsmanship. What is the supreme object of the introduction of machinery? Is it not to reduce the volume of human effort? That volume can be reduced in two ways, by reducing the number of workers or, more sensibly, by reducing the number of hours of those who are employed. Machines should make it unnecessary for the workers to toil 8 hours a day as they do at the present time. Thirty years ago I stood at the street corners time and time again, and the slogan was, "Eight hours work, eight hours play, eight hours sleep and eight bob a day." Has there been no advancement in machinery and invention since then? Has there been no increase in productivity? We require a fresh slogan; not eight hours a day, but considerably less.
1037 I am not going to speak very long, but I want to draw attention to one or two industries which certainly ought to come first in the reduction of working hours. My hon. Friend who moved the Motion mentioned the miners; I wonder how many hon. Members on the opposite side realise all that it means to miners to be down there, even in a mechanised industry, for 7½ or 8 hours per day. I wonder if it is ever realised that they have no place even to wash their hands, and that there is no lavatory accommodation. The miners are there among the filth, the dark, the danger, the nerve-racking machinery, the din and the dust, and you ask them to stay there for 7½ or 8 hours a day. The air is bad down there, even at the best of times. Then there are the picks which they are using at the present time. When the men come home after using those windy picks, as we call them, they are shaking as if they had a palsy. Eight hours of that; imagine it, and if you have a spark of humanity in your souls you will demand a reduction of those hours.
I live in a district where there are quarries. I had a friend up from the South of England not long ago who did not know of those quarries, and he went out for a walk. When he came back he said: "I did not know there were convicts here." The quarrymen have to go clambering over rocky ledges and over precipices with death 60 or 70 feet below them. If they are working at the bottom of the quarries there is mud during the winter time and they are exposed to all the weather. Quarrymen are not like miners who have too little air; they have too much air in some weathers. Those are two industries, and I could mention more, which would have a good claim to reduction of hours.
Then there are the domestic industries. I will not speak of catering but will leave that subject to hon. Members who know more about it than I do, but I shall say something about domestic service. When I go to and from the North of England every week, I often see upon Darlington Station shy girls of 15 years of age, and some younger, standing on the platform with their new cases in their hands setting out upon a long adventure. I dread to think sometimes of what the end of that adventure may be, and I dread to think of the number of hours they will have to work. They are not organised. The 1038 Mover of the Amendment said that all these arrangements should be settled between the organisations, but these bits of shy girls coming out from the Special Areas, Wales and Scotland into this great London and other great cities, with nobody to protect them, have no organisation. If I had a daughter, I would eat grass before I would send her down here at the age of 14 or 15, and I again ask all Members of the House to give their deepest thought to the question of domestic service and the regulation of hours. This House time and again has regulated the hours of work for adults, and also for young people, and such regulation is even more necessary for the adolescent than for the adult.
The Amendment suggests that this matter should be settled by the employers' and workpeople's organisations, but what about the huge numbers who are unorganised, employers as well as employed? I know it is said that there are decent employers. I would reply that there are decent workers too, and I want decent consideration and decent conditions for those decent workers. Where organisations do not exist, it is the duty of this House to step in and fix the definite hours that ought to be fixed. What are the advantages of shorter hours of work? They are better health, more leisure, less unemployment, an increased and increasing joy of life. These things will not come by talk; they will only come by action; and I am very much afraid that we cannot get that action from this Government. The solution lies, in my opinion and in that of my colleagues on this side, in going back to the worker owning his own machines, controlling his conditions of industry, possessing the product, and devising means for its distribution. That is not the object of the National Government, but it is the object of Socialism and of Socialist Government. We believe that nothing definite will be done until the people of this country are determined to go forward to the public ownership and control of all forms of industry.
§ 8.28 p.m.
§ Sir Arnold Gridley
I beg to move, in line I, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:is in favour of the reduction of working hours where it is practicable to make such a reduction without reducing the existing earnings 1039 of the workpeople, and is further of opinion that the adjustment of hours and wages is a matter primarily for settlement by negotiation between the employers' and workpeople's organisations in each industry.I would preface what I have to say by claiming that few Members of the House would have more sympathy with the general principle of the Motion put on the Paper by the Opposition than myself, and for this reason. When I think of my early days, it is not a very happy or pleasant memory. I was pitchforked into in apprenticeship in the engineering world in the terribly severe winter of 1895–96, when we had six solid weeks of continual frost, and the Thames was frozen over in many places. At that time I had to go down to the works at five o'clock every morning, and remain there until 11 o'clock at night; and so bitterly cold was the small office in which I had to start the work of the day that I had to take the ink bottles into the furnace house and thaw the ink before I could start work. Those were bad times. In the intervening period I and others who had a similar experience have seen a great improvement come over industry.
I do not propose to deal with the points raised by the Mover of the Motion, whom I always thoroughly enjoy listening to, because there is usually, in fact, invariably, "pep" in the "Yorkshire Relish" that we get from him. But one significant thing that struck me in reading his Motion was that it omits all reference to the maintenance of wages if hours are reduced. I assume, of course, that there would be no acceptance by hon. Members opposite of any reduction in weekly wages. I propose to deal with the effect that that would have in increasing costs, but hon. Members will agree that, if what they hope to achieve by this Motion came into effect in industry, that is to say, a 40-hour week, which, I take it, is the "substantial reduction in working hours" to which the Motion refers, they would achieve their object of absorbing many who are at present unemployed, by getting them taken on to add to the personnel who would be required on account of the reduction in hours. It follows obviously from that that the wages cost, as a percentage of whatever product may be made in the works, must go up.
I move about among, and have much contact with, employés, and, although I 1040 know that here and there workpeople have been stimulated to demand a 40-hour week, I am bound to confess that I myself have seen very little real evidence of the demand from the workers themselves. I do not for a moment believe—I can only speak from my own experience. which is now a fairly long one—that the worker of to-day is dissatisfied with a 47-hour week. I have learned that what Labour dislikes more than anything else is the haunting fear of unemployment. Workpeople would much rather have a 47-hour week for 52 weeks in the year than a 40-hour week for 40 weeks in the year. What is of vital importance to the worker is not so much what he gets per hour, or how many hours he works per week, as what his annual income is, and we ought to keep that in mind. We have had, within the experience of many of us here who are engaged in engineering, a reduction in working hours as recently as 1919.when the 54-hour week was reduced to 47 hours. Did that reduction result in an increase in the numbers employed?
§ Sir A. Gridley
I will leave the hon. Member to develop his. argument later. I see opposite me some of my hon. Friends who have sat on the opposite side of the council table with me on many occasions, and I would remind them of the bad years 1921 and 1922. Then, unfortunately, trade was so bad that many engaged in the industry and allied industries had a 40-hour week which could not be avoided. I want to remind Members of a statement by a leader of thought on the Clyde in 1934. He said:The hours of labour, it is suggested,"—this is Mr. P. J. Dollan—should be reduced from 47 to 40 hours. This will be a useful palliative but it should not be forgotten that working hours were reduced from 51 to 47—he meant "from 53 and 54 to 47"—after the War without effecting any increase in the number of employed. This reduction in the hours of labour only accelerated the process of rationalisation.I would turn for a moment to the probable consequences if a 40-hour working week were applied generally throughout our great industry. There were conferences on this very question back in 1933 between the engineering union and the employers, and I would 1041 ask hon. Members opposite to note that their spokesman, during those negotiations, admitted that a reduction from 47 to 40 hours per week would mean an increased wage cost of 6 per cent. I challenge anyone here to take a 10-year average of the ordinary dividends paid by the engineering firms and show that the average dividend exceeded 6 per cent. As a matter of fact, it was less.
§ Sir A. Gridley
I am coming to that. One thing we have to bear in mind is that, so far as our heavy engineering industries are concerned, our raw materials are the finished product of many other industries coal, power, forging, casting, copper, wire, and so on. Those are all the finished products of other industries. If a reduction to 40 hours per week in all those other industries was to produce only a 6 per cent. increase in wages costs—the figure of hon. Members opposite—what is to be the cumulative effect of all that on the finished product of those industries, which are the raw materials of our heavy engineering? There is no doubt, from my own experience, that shorter hours would put up the cost of production, and what would inevitably follow, if I know working men well, would be that there would be immediately generated a demand for a return to a 47-hour week; in other words, that there should be seven hours of overtime. Of course, seven hours overtime would be paid at time-and-a-third. The effect would be to put up the wages cost by 23 per cent. Those of us who hold responsible positions in the conduct of industry must watch with most anxious care anything which would tend to increase the cost of production. We have to depend very largely upon our exports, and I think it will not be denied that, in the case of our heavy engineering industries, one-third to half of our annual output is export. That business has to be obtained in fierce competition with the rest of the world.
§ Sir A. Gridley
I would like to refer, if I may, to the result of the 40-hour experiment in France. The "Times" Paris correspondent wrote on 20th September: 1042The 40-hour week has not only failed to solve the unemployment problem; it has retarded output and sent up the level of prices. Textile output is now lower than at any time since the crisis began in 1930, and building activity is about half what it was in 1933.Here is a reference that perhaps will be accepted as even more accurate than the "Times" correspondent. "John Bull," another paper widely read by hon. Members opposite, and also by myself, sent a representative to France to investigate conditions arising out of the introduction of the 40-hour week. He reported as follows:The price is a terrible one—so high that France is nearly at breaking point in her domestic economy. In a year the cost of living has swollen by more than 30 per cent., and most of the increase has taken place in recent months. To-morrow it may bound to any level because there is no control whatever…. There has not even been the feeblest effort by the French Government to check the plunder that is being committed in the name of the 40-hour week and holidays with pay. The Government in fact, seems to be utterly helpless and impotent. It appears to he still dazed by the inevitable confusion that followed the launching of these great reforms without the slightest preparation or planning. The Government looks on while the disparity between production costs and retail prices grows wider everyday….No other conclusion can he reached than that … the 40-hour week is already doomed—at least, for a time.
§ Sir A. Gridley
I started by saying that I had a good deal of sympathy with the purposes of this Motion. I know the word "sympathy" is sneered at very often by hon. Members who do not agree with us on these benches, although I never can understand why. But I would like to suggest how we can best combine and co-operate to make progress in the direction that they wish, on safe and sound lines. Give the workers the facts. I have never hesitated, as far as my influence has helped in that way, to ensure that workers are given the facts. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) will remember that, in negotiating with the Amalgamated Engineering Union we reached an absolute impasse, and nothing but strife seemed to face our great industry. A small committee was 1043 appointed to see whether, at the eleventh hour, something could not be done which would bring about a closer understanding between the two sides. I happened to be one of a committee of five employers set up to consider the situation, and when we met to consider what we were going to do, I put forward the suggestion that we should disclose to the Amalgamated Engineering Union the exact state of orders and give them the facts and the figures. I well remember that when I made that suggestion inside the four walls of the board room how very surprised my colleagues were at my having been so venturesome as to suggest it. I said to them, "Well if you have any other better alternative, produce it." There -was none, and, to cut a long story short, we went back to the executive body of our own federation, and after a meeting which lasted nearly all day, we eventually persuaded the great majority of the employers to fall in with the suggestion that bad been made. All the information, duly audited by the auditors of each of the firms, was put together, and the total figures and facts were placed before the Amalgamated Engineering Union. I believe that it is true to say that, while there have been differences between the two sides, during the time between that day and this, there has been peace between the parties as a result of this disclosing of the facts.
I trust the British working man, if you are honest with him and let him see exactly what you and others are getting out of the business which you are carrying on. I am strongly of the opinion that these matters should be brought about, not by trying to legislate for the whole of industry, but by leaving each industry to deal with its own problems and arrange its own conditions between employers and employed. If you do not agree with that point of view, then surely it must follow that the usefulness of trade unions would largely evaporate, which I as an employer would be very sorry to see. The surest way to secure progress and peace in our great industries is for men who are experienced, tried and honest representatives to sit down with the employers' representatives and talk matters over quietly round the table. Employers are sometimes spoken of in 1044 terms that are somewhat derogatory. Believe me, we employers know who are the diehards among us, and if the practice of negotiation between the unions and employers' organisations continues, as I hope it will, you can leave it to the employers in these days to deal with their own diehards, who may want persuasion or even coercion.
There is one other method which I would advocate. I can only just touch upon it now, but I do want some day to develop it. I personally, want to see the worker having a greater share in the profits of industry, and I would like to tell the House of a scheme which, some 18 months ago, I put into operation in the works with which I am associated. All those workpeople who are members of trade unions get the trade union rate of wages, and I am happy to say that at present, and for the past two years, they have been earning very good money indeed, because the works have been working day and night on a three-shift system, and much overtime money has been earned. But there are other men in the nature of black-coated workers like foremen, labourers, draughtsmen, cost clerks and so on, who are called upon to work a considerable amount of overtime, but who do not get, in the ordinary course of events, extra pay. We have established for everybody who is not under trade union agreements a standard rate of salary or wage, and in bad times the worst cut, if there are no profits at all, which they would suffer would be a maximum of 10 per cent. On the other hand, when trade is good and profits are being made, all the people who come under that scheme are entitled, after 6 per cent. has been paid on the ordinary share capital, to rank for a rising bonus which has no roof. The result of that so far this year has been that those on fixed rates of salary or wage are receiving something like an addition of 33? per cent. to their pay.
I think that in that way, by negotiation to settle wages agreements, hours and other conditions of work between the masters and men, if I may use the term without offence, and by seeing to it that those who are not so safeguarded have a pecuniary interest in the profit which is being made by the firm, we shall do but rough justice and satisfy the worker that he is having a fair deal. I would empha- 1045 sise my point by referring to an extract from a speech made by Mr. Ernest Bevin at the Trade Union Congress at Norwich, in September. It was about trades unions, and he said:Our movement is a voluntary one and the claim for State regulations must not he carried too far. It might easily lead us on the slippery slope of the totalitarian State under capitalist control by which our very liberty may he destroyed. There are some industries in which, to prevent sweating, State regulation is essential. There are some matters in industry, like health, where State regulation is essential. In other industries the legalising of voluntary agreements is all that should be accepted. In the remainder, it is far better to maintain standards by trade union action wherever we can.I think the progress that has been made in this direction was admirably summed up by the Minister of Labour on 6th July. He said:In the field of industrial relations we are bound to pay tribute to the general effectiveness of the various forms of joint machinery for determining wages and working conditions. The value of this machinery was fully tested and proved during the long period of industrial depression, and it is equally proving itself since the general improvement of trade and industry."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1937; col. 196, Vol. 326.]As an employer who has worked his way up from an apprentice, through management, to directorship, I do ask that as employers we may have the full cooperation of labour. It is by co-operation, and not by coercion or blind competition, that we shall continue to have prosperous industry, and thereby enable the worker in this country not only to make a living, which in itself is not unimportant, but also to make a life.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
As one engineer to another, may I put this question to the hon. Member? Will he tell me one firm in Great Britain that went down in the engineering industry as a result of the reduction of hours of labour from 54 to 47? Will he tell me of one firm that went down during 1919 as a result of the reduction of hours?
§ Sir A. Gridley
I need not remind the hon. Member that since that date an 1046 enormous number of firms in the iron, steel, shipbuilding and other allied industries have had to write millions off their capital and to cut their losses.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
My point is that, immediately this reduction of hours happened in the engineering and shipbuilding industry on the Clyde my employer of labour, Lord Invernairn, declared that this reduction of hours would be the ruin of him and would put him in the poor house. Two years ago he died a millionaire.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. McCorquodale
I beg to second the Amendment.
I cannot say how much I enjoyed the speech, the grand electioneering speech, of the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Paling). He, like myself, is a Member for a Yorkshire Division, and in his case at any rate good stuff comes from Yorkshire. I cannot help thinking that if he had not been Deputy Chief Whip of his party already he would be certain of a place in the forthcoming election to the Front Bench. I think the hon. Member for Seaham Harbour (Mr. Shinwell) ought immediately to resign his unofficial post as head of the ginger group and hand it over to the much more capable hands of the hon. Member.
There was one portion of the hon. Member's speech with which I was in entire agreement, and that was when he spoke of long hours of juvenile workers. The hon. Member sitting next to him, together with myself and other hon. Members, spent long hours in the early part of this year dealing with this matter when we were debating the Factories Bill, and we can claim to have made some progress. I hope that in regard to the trades which we were not able to touch, where juvenile workers are employed, the Government will take action to prevent unduly long hours being worked by young people.
I should like to examine rather closely the Motion and our Amendment. The first omission in the Motion that struck me as significant was that there was no reference whatever to the maintenance of wages. I should have thought that that was the most important thing, and that if you asked any British workman whether shorter hours or the maintenance 1047 of wages was the most important thing, he would say at once the maintenance of wages. Therefore, I regret that in the Motion there is no mention of the necessity for maintaining earnings. In that respect I claim that our Amendment is better than the Motion. If the Motion were carried in its present form without the mention of the necessity of maintaining earnings, it might be said that the trade union movement and the Labour party had declared for shorter hours at all costs, in spite of the possibility of a reduction of wages. I do not believe that they stand for that. Therefore, I say that in that respect the Motion is wrong and our Amendment is right and should be supported.
I am glad to see in the Motion, at any rate in print, that the 40-hour week has gone. "A substantial reduction in hours" is a much more suitable phrase. Until I heard the hon. Member in his speech get back again to the 40-hour week argument, I thought that in the Recess he must have been in France and had learned at first hand something of the miserable fiasco of the 40-hour week there. Finally, in the Motion the hon. Member calls for immediate measures for securing a substantial reduction in working hours all round. May I venture to put an argument which, in my opinion, is sound and indisputable? It is impossible to divorce hours of labour from rates of wages. It is impossible to insist that hours of labour should be governed by State regulations and regulated throughout the country by Parliament here, while rates of earnings should be governed by collective bargaining by employers' and employés' organisations. If hours are to be settled by law, and that is implied in the Motion, then sooner or later the State will have to take over also the regulation of wages. That is a danger to which Mr. Bevin rightly referred in the speech which my hon. Friend has quoted, and with which I absolutely agree.
In the totalitarian States, in Germany and Italy, you have this State regulation of hours and wages, and the whole trade union system, such as we have and are proud of in this country, employers and workpeople alike, has disappeared. At all costs, I would say to hon. Members opposite, let us save our- 1048 selves from that state of affairs over here. In the Motion that system is inherent, and if it were passed it would presumably be adopted as the policy of the Labour party. I do not believe that any hon. Member wants anything of the sort. We all want, while maintaining the prosperity of this country and employment at as high a level as possible, and while maintaining the earnings of the workpeople, to reduce hours as often as we can. That is a sentiment with which hon. Members, wherever they may sit, will agree. How much better is our Amendment than the original Motion for obtaining that end? Let me study the Amendment and analyse it as I have analysed the Motion. Our Amendment first lays down the principle that the primary interest is that earnings must be preserved. Does anyone object to that? Then, that, where practicable, hours should be reduced. No one objects to that. Further, we maintain that the machinery of collective bargaining between employers' associations and trade unions which we have already got in this country is the best machinery to decide if such a reduction is practicable, and if it is practicable how great a reduction should be made. Does anybody disagree with that?
§ Mr. McCorquodale
It is interesting to know that the hon. Member disagrees with the duties of trade unions. We shall not forget that. Finally, I would point out that we use the word "primarily" in the Amendment. We say that:The adjustment of hours and wages is a matter primarily for settlement by negotiation.There are certain matters, quite rightly referred to by the Mover of the Motion, where you cannot apply this principle. Where it is a matter of health then the Ministry of Health or the Home Office must step in. But we maintain that where possible these things should be arranged by negotiation through the appropriate machinery set up between employers and trade union organisations.
Does the hon. Member's support of the Amendment, which refers to negotiations between employers and trade unions, extend to assisting in a repeal of the Trade Disputes Act, which keeps trade unions back from the very thing he desires.
§ Mr. McCorquodale
I deny emphatically that the Trade Disputes Act has any such effect on the present discussion and issue. Let me take up a little more time and deal with the industry in which I work, the printing industry, because the procedure which we suggest in our Amendment has just been carried out in the printing industry to a successful conclusion. If I am not wearying the House let me give a short history of the negotiations. I think it is an apt illustration. I would first remind the House that the commercial printing industry of this country is a sheltered industry. We have practically no competition from abroad. Up to now we have been working a 48hour week. The trade unions in the industry some time ago approached the British Federation of Master Printers, the employers' organisation, and asked that negotiations for a 40-hour week should be immediately put in hand. The employers said they were sorry that a 40-hour week was quite impossible.
Having reached a deadlock at the early stages the matter was taken to the Joint Industrial Council, of which we are proud in our industry. The Joint Industrial Council after a long discussion recommended that the original demand and reply should be withdrawn and that employers and employés should immediately open negotiations on the question of a reduction of hours in the industry, with no reference at that time to the amount of the reduction. After the usual course had been pursued an offer was made by the employers of a 46-hour week, to be replied to by the trade union for a 44-hour week, and like sensible people on both sides they finally decided to split the difference and it became a 45-hour week. Everybody was very well pleased and it came into force in October of this year. We are now working on a 45-hour week. That is a good example in actual practice in an important industry of this country of the practical working out of a shorter working week by direct negotiations between masters and men, and I make this point, that it was largely due to having an efficient Joint Industrial Council in the industry that the two sides met on friendly terms.
There are two important points which I must emphasise. The actual cost of our printing has been estimated by the best accountant opinion we could get. The 1050 cost apart from materials has gone up by 5 to 7½ per cent. We are an industry which works largely on individual orders; we must. It is what may be called a piece-work business, and it is therefore fairly easy for us to get our extra increased costs back from our customers. I am glad to say that we are in most cases able to do that. That is all right for a sheltered industry; a rise in costs can be largely recovered; but the great exporting industries must watch their costs and competitive charges much more closely; otherwise it is possible that more unemployment and hardship than benefit to the workers may be brought about by arbitrary action in shortening hours. Obviously a consideration of that sort is much more suitably decided by negotiation between masters and men than by a Debate in the House of Commons. It may interest hon. Members to know the personal reactions of the 45-hour week which we have noticed. One is that while in the South the working people like the idea of a five-day week, up in the North, and especially in Glasgow, they dislike it intensely. The men say that they do not know what to do with themselves at home on Saturday mornings, and the girls say that they are kept at home on Saturday mornings by their mothers making them do housework. The reactions have differed in different parts of the country as to the advisability of working five or six days with a shorter number of hours.
I should like to refer for one moment to France. I happen to be acquainted with the working of a small printing factory in France. It has not been doing too well—indeed, it has been losing money for the last three years, and this year is the first year in which it has worked out about equal. It is now working on a 40-hour week, with a rise in wages. The company by putting up its charges to a considerable amount have been able to recoup themselves. But this is the point: the working people in that industry told my friend that they were far worse off now in the amount of goods they can purchase with their wages than they were before the 40-hour week was introduced. That is what workpeople in that industry told my friend, and I think it is something that is worth careful consideration by all hon. Members, because we do not want to see that happen here. In conclusion, I would say to hon. Members opposite that 1051 we all want to see as much leisure as possible for everyone, without undue dislocation of industry, without increased unemployment, without the loss of export trade, which is vital to this country, and without the loss of earnings to workpeople. I submit in all seriousness that the Amendment would be best able to bring that desired condition about, and that the Motion of hon. Gentlemen opposite would not have that desired effect. I urge the House to resist the Motion and to support the Amendment.
§ 9.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Mander
I rise to support the Motion, which I believe deals in a much more realistic way with the situation that faces us than does the Amendment that has been moved. For instance—to take one point only—the Amendment ends with the words:A matter primarily for settlement by negotiation between the employers' and workpeople's organisations in each industry.All hon. Members know that, unfortunately, a large number of workers in this country are not organised in any trade union. It is a pity they are not and they would be wise so to organise themselves; but surely it is not right that they should be penalised because there is no organisation for them in the trade or industry which they have entered. That is one reason why I say the Amendment does not deal with the situation that faces us. The hon. Member who seconded the Amendment said that he did not think it was proper to fix hours without fixing wages at the same time. When I heard him make that remark, I could hardly believe my ears, because the hon. Member spent a very considerable amount of time at the beginning of this year—and I was very happy to be associated with him—in doing that very thing, fixing hours without any relation to wages. With regard to women and young persons, he made a very valuable contribution to the discussions; and what he did then was exactly contrary to the argument that he has just been making in this Debate.
The hon. Member who moved the Amendment, in such an interesting way, said that, apart from the question of hours, an element that might usefully be introduced into industry was some form of profit-sharing. That is certainly 1052 one part of the advantages that ought to be offered to the workers. An adequate wage should be the first charge upon industry. There ought also to be adequate welfare facilities inside and outside the factory in the way of sport and recreation, there ought to be pensions schemes for old people when they come to the age of retirement, and there ought to be adequate means of consultation in conjunction with trade unions, not only in joint industrial councils, but in works councils, so that the employés may be taken into the confidence of their employers. That should be the case not only in the interesting and isolated circumstances to which the hen. Member who proposed the Amendment referred—at the height of a crisis—but as a matter of ordinary day-to-day routine in the conduct of business. That is a picture of the conditions that one would like to see. The hon. Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley) made great play with the 40-hour week, but there is in the Motion no reference to 40 hours.
§ Mr. McCorquodale
On behalf of my hon. Friend, who is not present at the moment, may I point out that the hon. Member who moved the Motion mentioned the 40-hour week in his speech?
§ Mr. Mander
That is an ideal one would like to see attained, but I am dealing with the Motion on the Paper, and not with what was said by the hon. Member who moved it. The Motioncalls for immediate measures for securing a substantial reduction in working hours.Earlier in the year we spent a great deal of time in discussing the Factories Bill, but we did not succeed in securing any limitation of the working hours of men. A man of 21 years of age may be worked 50, 60 or 70 hours a week, and men are so worked in certain parts of the country in small businesses. It is well known that that is the case in some parts of the Midlands. It would be a good beginning to fix a definite statutory limitation on the hours of men. In the discussions on the Factories Bill, the nearest we got to a 40-hour week was 44 hours for young persons between the ages of 14 and 16. Although that was a very poor effort, it represented a slight advance. There is another step that ought to be taken. No person under 18 years of age should be allowed to work more than 40 1053 hours a week, and there should be no overtime for such people.
Some speakers have referred to their personal experiences. I, too, have been associated for five years with an experiment where there has been a reduction of working hours from 47 to 40 hours a week. There has been a five-day week of 40 hours, and I have never heard of any difficulty on the part of employés in finding something to do on Saturday mornings. Great facilities are offered for gardening, and also for following the triumphant career of the Wolverhampton Wanderers in their "away" matches. That experiment, which has now been working for five years, has been successful in every way. No one wishes to go back on it. There has been no reduction in wages, and no one has been discharged as the result of the experiment. I do not pretend for a moment that such things could be done in the ordinary way. It was possible to carry out the experiment only because there was rationalisation concurrently. The two things were done together, and in wholehearted co-operation with the trade union concerned we were able to arrive at a scheme which has worked in that way. Wherever rationalisation is taking place in the country, opportunities are offered for doing the same sort of thing, and I hope that employers, employers' associations and the Government will do all they can, when they see such movements taking place in any particular industry, to seize the opportunity of pointing out the great possibilities that there are for an industrial advance and a shortening of hours, without any reduction of wages. Now there are difficulties where that is not taking place, but in the area to which I am referring there is no reason that I can see why a very substantial advance should not take place.
May I be allowed to congratulate the printing industry on the very successful negotiations they have carried out in securing a reduction of hours, an admirable example of the kind of thing one wants? I think they are to be congratulated on resisting the temptation, which I know was in the minds of certain people, that it would be much better for them to stand in with the other employers in the country and make a common front to any attack on the working week. I believe they have been very wise and very courageous in doing a thing that will 1054 place them as pioneers in industrial reform. There is more than one kind of loyalty in an industry. There is no doubt the loyalty to one's competitors and fellow manufacturers, but there is a loyalty to one's employés, and there is a loyalty to one's customers, and I am quite sure that customers are delighted when any firm or industry finds it possible to put into operation any scheme which involves a substantial reduction in hours; and if it involves an increase in charges it will have to be borne, just as, in the case of charges on coal in connection with miners' wages a year or two ago, they were also gladly borne in certain cases.
I am sure the printing industry has given itself a magnificent advertisement in the steps recently taken, and I know that what has already been done is affecting other industries. The argument of their action is being used in trying to effect similar arrangements elsewhere in other industries, and I trust that it will succeed. It seems to me that what has been done in the printing industry brings to the fore another question, and that is the question of what steps you are going to take to see that the agreement is carried out in practice by all employers in the country; and that brings me to the question of the enabling Bill. We have had some experience in connection with the cotton industry through the Cotton Industry (Temporary Provisions) Act. There you have had 100 per cent. compliance with the rates during the last 18 months—that is the report of the committee—whereas before that it was only something like 50 per cent. I cannot help feeling that what has taken place must be some stimulus to a movement which I know is taking place towards the consideration of an enabling Bill. I believe we have reached the stage now when if any important industry on a national scale came to the Government asking for similar powers the Government would be bound to grant them.
I think we are not far from the stage when the Minister of Labour may be inclined to bring forward a general enabling Bill which will provide powers, without separate enactment in each case, to give authority to various industries, where it is thought right, to give the force of law to decisions come to between employers and employed. Now a point with reference to another step that has been taken. I do not see why some great Government 1055 Department should not set an example to the country—should not themselves substantially reduce hours. There has been an agitation to secure a 40-hour week in the Post Office. It has been done in the United States of America. Arguments have been put up against it, but I should like to see very serious consideration given by the Government to an act of that kind, even if it meant extra charges, as it must, because of the impetus it would give, the fine example it would set, to employers all over the country.
I want to say a few words on this matter from the international point of view. It has been given very close consideration at the International Labour Office at Geneva on a number of occasions. I think the Minister was there himself at the recent meeting; but I cannot say that our country has stood out in a very satisfactory way at these gatherings. I am afraid the attitude of the British Government has been largely obstructive. They have resisted by every ingenious argument they could think of any step in advance, and it is a curious and regrettable coincidence that all the arguments they have used in Debate have been the arguments of the employers' associations, which have done their utmost of course, to resist any advance. Now the actual terms of the 40-hour Convention are these: First of all, each member of the I.L.O. which ratifies this convention declares its approval of (a) the principle of a 40-hour week applied in such a manner that the standard of living is not reduced in consequence; and (b) the taking and facilitating of such measures as may be judged appropriate to secure these ends.
Those are the main points. It is a purely general proposition. But the British Government refused to agree with it in 1935 and 1936. It is very regrettable that they should have done so because I believe they could have given their assent without prejudice to the difficulties which will certainly arise when you come to transform that general proposition into the more exact forms which it will require when applied to various industries. One of the chief arguments used by the Government was that you do not want to deal with this by a general international convention apart from wages. That is wholly contrary to many recent incidents in the. 1056 history of the International Labour Office. The British Government never objected to dealing with this matter in this way in the Labour Charter in the Treaty of Versailles. They never objected to the Washington Eight Hours Convention—it is true they never ratified it—but they agreed to it at the time. They never objected to fixing hours without relation to wages in the Coal Mines Convention when they negotiated that. They never objected to it in the one specific example of the sheet-glass industry where agreement has been reached and where, I understand, ratification is going to take place. They never raised these arguments or difficulties there. In fact, we are driven back to the conclusion that this particular objection applies only to a 40-hour week, and that only because they cannot think of some better argument.
I should have thought that, particularly for this country, it was essentially wise that we should do all in our power to screw up other countries abroad if they are below our standard—use every pressure we can to get them to come into these international conventions—get the reports which they are obliged to give as to how they are carrying out their obligations under the convention and in the treaty itself, and test in that way how they are carrying out that duty. Nothing would be better or wiser in the interest of shorter hours in this country than for the British Government to take a lead in that direction. I do hope my hon. Friend who is going to reply will be able to show more sympathy than the Government have shown on some occasions not only here but at Geneva. It is not right that this great industrial country should lag behind. I should like to see us once more assuming the role of industrial leadership in the world which we once occupied. There are difficulties. They have to be overcome some day. Why not try to overcome them earlier rather than later? I hope the Government will take the opportunities which present themselves, at any rate in the realm of industry, to be once more the leaders of mankind.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ Wing-Commander Wright
First of all, may I reply to what the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) said about the attitude adopted by hon. Members on this side of the House who sat on the Committee which dealt with the 1057 Factories Act? It is true that we pressed strongly for shorter hours but then we were definitely dealing with young persons, with whom, in some cases, women were also included. We looked upon that rather as a matter of health, but as my hon. Friend knows, a great many women and women's organisations were not altogether pleased at being placed in the same category as juveniles. I feel that the Mover and Seconder of the Motion showed the weakness of their case by their persistence in dealing with the subject from the point of view of special cases. They talked about juveniles and about miners, but no one has, so far, discussed the Motion from the point of view of applying a flat law to all forms of employment.
As another employer who has instituted a 45-hour week in the works which he controls, having carefully read the Motion on the Paper I feel myself compelled to support the Amendment and to oppose the Motion. I do so, not because I am opposed to the principle which the Mover of the Motion wants to establish, but because I am convinced from practical experience that the objects which he wishes to achieve will not be achieved by flat legislation of that kind. We must treat this question, as he says, from a common-sense point of view. We must view the situation as a whole and consider what is likely to happen if, by an arbitrary law, we impose shorter hours on all forms of employment in this country.
First, we ought to make clear what we mean when we talk about shorter hours. If we mean the sort of test referred to by the Mover of the Motion, that is to say the exploitation of certain unorganised workers to their detriment as happy and contented members of the community, then, of course, every one will agree that if ordinary methods cannot prevail, this House ought to take some action to deal with a matter of that kind. But I gather from the Debate so far, that that is not what we are talking about to-night. We are discussing whether we should, by law, fix a given number of hours for a given period and, by law, prevent any man from working longer hours than those under any conditions whatever. That being so, we must consider seriously what is likely to be the effect on the country and the workers themselves.
1058 We must bear in mind what makes up the selling price of any ordinary article. I instance a motor car because my business happens to be closely allied with motor cars and also because it is an article which everyone can easily understand. If we analyse the cost of manufacture of a motor car, from the time when the ore and the coal come out of the ground to the time when the whole machine is assembled in the showroom, we shall find that 75 to 80 per cent. of the selling cost is directly attributable to wages. If we make only a reasonable reduction of hours, say something like 10 per cent., knocking four hours off the ordinary week, this, in effect, to the producer of the motor car is an increase in wages. A 10 per cent. reduction in hours of work will work out at an eight per cent. increase in the selling cost of the article.
We must also remember that although this reduction of hours is, on paper, an increase in wages—that is to say the worker gets a higher rate per hour because he is working shorter hours—the amount of money which he brings home in his wages packet on Friday evening is exactly the same. He has actually received no increase. But if as a result of applying this reduction of hours nationally there was a general rise of 8 per cent. in selling costs, then the worker might soon find himself in a very much worse position. There is the further consideration that the real wages of a worker are not entirely represented by the money which he brings home on Friday. If he is a family man, our great social services to-day add considerably to his weekly income. If we pass a law applying this proposal to all forms of employment, we shall affect our social services—hospitals, health services and so forth—and those institutions have no method of recouping themselves for the extra cost, except that of cutting down the amount of service which they give— which, in itself, forms part of the real wages of the worker. Those are points which have to be considered because they have their effect on the workman whom we are all endeavouring to help and not to hurt by this Debate. But that is not all. We have to consider seriously our export trade. A very large proportion of our workers are dependent on it and if, as a result of rise in costs, we do less instead of more export trade, then, 1059 instead of merely working shorter hours the workman may find that he is working no hours at all.
These are some of the objections and difficulties which arise when one considers a proposal of this kind. I propose to state why I consider that it is almost impossible to put such a proposal into effect by a hard-and-fast law. I ask hon. Members opposite at what point in the wages scale they propose to introduce this law preventing a man working more than 40 hours a week. Is it to apply, say, to everybody who is earning less than £4 a week? Are we to say to every one up to that rate, "You come under this law and you shall not in any circumstances be allowed to work more than 40 hours a week"? Are we to say to those who earn more than that rate, "Because you earn more money, because you are in a different class"—that I think is the word which is beloved of our friends opposite—"because we have created this class distinction, you shall work as many hours as you like and you shall be entitled to make as much money as you like"? I do not believe that hon. Members opposite mean anything of the kind. But they must see that such a law would have to start to apply at some point, and I take it that when a man once came within the orbit of that law, he would not be allowed to work more than 40 hours a week. In other words, he could not work 40 hours a week in one factory and go across the road and work 20 hours a week in another. If he cannot do that, surely you are putting a bar on his advancement, and surely you are creating one law for the rich and another law for the poor, which I am sure hon. Members opposite would not agree to do.
Having said that, and having put what I see to be the difficulties and what are my objections to dealing with this matter by means of legislation, I now want to say that I believe that shorter hours can be obtained in a very great number of forms of employment, and probably in all, if the right spirit is there to negotiate the matter on both sides. I have had, as I have said, a fair amount of practical experience, and experiments which I have carried out in my works have now become facts and actual ordinary conditions of work. We have found that there is another weakness in this Motion, because 1060 we have found that reasonably reducing the hours of work does not in fact find employment for more people. We are all inclined to look at this matter from the point of view of our own industry, and hon. Members must remember that there is a tremendous number of workers in this country to-day who are paid for some form of piece work or bonus on output. There is no doubt that shorter hours are desirable, because it is so easy to prove that the workpeople can still earn the same money without any detriment to their health—in fact, with a great gain to their health—through getting extra leisure time by working reasonably shorter hours.
That has happened in our works without our trying to force the pace at all. We find that people do actually produce more, they appreciate the long week-end, they come back refreshed, and they take a greater interest in the work which they are called upon to do, but what we have found is that the real way to obtain shorter working hours without raising the cost of living is by working a properly organised shift system. We have found that we can work a 40-hour week absolutely satisfactorily, and we pay the wages of the men who work 40 hours exactly as though they were working 47. What is even more interesting than that, we find that because we are getting 80 hours' work out of the factory every week. not only are we able to absorb this very considerable increase in wages and pay it quite easily, but we are actually ably to sell our product at a lower price than we could if we were working the ordinary, standard 47-hour week. The explanation is very simple, and if the 40-hour system could be applied generally by means: If shifts there would be no very great difficulty in the matter. I put that forward because I believe that these things can be negotiated between the employers' and employés' organisations. I realise that what suits my particular trade may not suit others, and it is easy, of course, to pick out examples which would be very difficult to deal with at all. but I have no doubt that with good v ill these could be got over.
I was surprised really that the Motion should be put forward in its present form by hon. Members opposite. I cannot help thinking that it is put forward to some extent with their tongues in their cheeks, 1061 because I do not think they really believe that the trade unions are doing so badly in their negotiations in this matter. There is no doubt that there is a general move towards shorter hours, just as there is a general move towards holidays with pay. Public opinion is being aroused, and perhaps there is no better way of rousing it than a Debate such as we are having this evening. Public opinion is the greatest compelling force in this matter, and, as I say, I am only surprised that hon. Members opposite should have brought this Motion forward, because it seems to me that they are sabotaging the trade unions that they represent. There is no doubt whatever that if the Government take over the control of hours, they must logically take over the control of wages, and where would our trade unions be then? Like my hon. Friend, I would regret that very much indeed. I think I have put forward all the points as they appear to me and given quite clearly the reasons why tonight I shall support the Amendment.
§ 9.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Buchanan
I think the hon. Members opposite who have spoken have proved too much. They have all proved how satisfactory shorter hours can be and how well they can work, and then in the same voice they have also attempted to prove that if you give shorter hours, it will ruin industry. It seems to me that that contradiction has run right through their speeches. It has been said of us here that in bringing forward this Motion, to some extent we run counter to the trade union movement. Everyone in this House knows that the trade union movement plays a considerable part in the organised work of everyday working-class life, but one has to recognise that, for good or for ill, large masses of the people who are affected by this question are not covered by any trade union at all. May I say to the Seconder of the Amendment that to a certain extent I had hopes of him, and up to the time when the Factories Bill went through Committee I tried to persuade myself that he could be reasonable, and that if you applied logic and reason to him you could debate with him, but after applying them during 40 sittings, I gave him up, and I am not going to be taken in by him to-night.
With the exception of the printing trade, since 1919 there is no organised trade in this country that has had a reduction in hours. Indeed, since 1919, 1062 with the exception of the one that the hon. Member quoted, in October of this year, the great organised trades have suffered increases of hours. Who were better organised, who were better equipped from a trade union point of view, than the miners of this country? None. They come nearer 100 per cent. organisation than any other industry, and yet during that time, with all their trade union power and capacity, they have had to suffer an increase in hours. Take brick making. That industry has gone from having a 48-hour working week to having almost universally 52 and 54 hours, with all their trade union powers, and I say to my hon. Friends opposite that we have got to face this fact, that the trade unions can act and act properly only when certain things are on their side.
I have taken some part in engineering negotiations, and what are the facts that we are faced with there? When, four or five years ago, we asked from the employers a 40-hour working week, we were told that they could not grant it because of the state of industry. Now, when we ask for it, they do not use the same argument, but they say, "We cannot grant you that now, because we are too busy, and trade is too good." A year ago it was because the industry was too slack. Now it is because it is too busy. That argument means that we can never get it. When the industry is slack we cannot fight, for we have unemployed members, and no funds. When it is busy it is said that it cannot be done because there are no reserves of. labour. In 1919. in a National Government of a different kind, which way called a Coalition Government, Mr. George Barnes, who will not be repudiated in any part of the House, took a foremost part in the Washington Convention for a 48-hour week. Even to-day 50 per cent. of the people of this country do not yet enjoy a 48-hour working week. The miners have not a 48-hour working week. If you take the miner's time in descending the pit and coming up, it is far in excess. The time thus occupied should be recognised as part of the miner's legitimate work.
I heard yesterday a Debate about planning ahead. I do not claim that a reduction of hours will solve unemployment. We have to remember that when hours are reduced mankind's inventive genius 1063 does not stop. Yesterday we were talking about planning for the time when inevitably there will be an easing off. What could be more appropriate than that we should to-night make this contribution to a plan for the future for a reduction in hours of labour? It is said that Parliament should not interfere in these negotiations between workmen and employers. Parliament, however, has interfered with employers, for in the Factory Act we interfered with the conduct of factories. We do not interfere with the trade unions. In the Factory Act we laid down certain minimum standards, but we did not say to the trade unions that they should not improve on them. Our claim is that Parliament should set up a certain standard of hours of labour which shall be the lawful hours, and that the trade unions should then negotiate to improve even on the legal standard. It should not be forgotten that 47 hours in the engineering trade is much more than it used to be. In every city a few years ago workers lived adjacent to their work. They are to-day miles away from their work, and I am not against that. In Glasgow the men used to have their houses against their jobs and they used to travel to their work in 10 minutes. To-day they take 45 or 50 minutes to get to their jobs. I maintain that that is part of their working day. In engineering work a man starts at five minutes to 8 o'clock in the morning, which means that he has to leave home at 7 o'clock. He stops work at 5.30, which means that he does not get home until 6.30. His day is, therefore, from seven in the morning until 6.30 at night, with one hour break—and this at a time when modern industry has produced wealth faster than ever before. Is that a defensible day? I have done it. I have gone to my work without any breakfast before I left home, and when I have got a glass of water about 9 o'clock in the morning the water has lain on my stomach because I had had no food.
The arguments that were used by the three Conservative Members to-day are the same arguments that were used against Shaftesbury and every reformer of the past. One hon. Gentleman said that if hours are shortened it must mean that wages must necessarily go down because the costs would have to be met 1064 in some way. It is not uncommon for men in bad times—and the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) will bear me out—to go to their employers and offer to work 30 or 35 hours a week, and to do it gladly, in order that the work might be shared among their fellows. This Motion implies more than the actual reduction of hours; it means the limitation of overtime. I have seen during bad times a man walking up the stairs of a Glasgow tenement after working excessive hours and another man walking up the same stairs who had worked no hours at all. The two things do not fit—excessive hours here and no hours there. Capable men who want work cannot get it while other men overwork themselves, reduce their leisure and have to go without the better things of life. I will riot follow the hon. Gentleman opposite into the tricks of argument about the professional worker. What we are discussing here is a general Motion instructing the Government to get to work on shorter hours. It is the Government's job, if we carry it, to produce the necessary Measure. Parliament will then examine it. It is only a question of the will to do it. It would be nothing to Britain to grant a 40-hour week if there were the will to do it, if this Government had the same will to get hours down as they had to increase the hours of the miners. All we need is the attitude of mind, the desire to do it. I am certain that in a country which is rich and is undertaking all this expenditure upon armaments, richer than most of the men ever dreamed that it would be before they went to the War, if we have the determination of which I have spoken, we can give the toiling masses a decent reduction in hours.
§ 10.6 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Butler)
I think it may be for the convenience of the House if at this stage I outline the Government's attitude towards this private Member's Motion. I hope the House will forgive me if I put forward my arguments rather shortly, because I hope to adhere to the space of about a quarter of an hour for my speech, and if so I shall be the shortest speaker. It is not the wish of the Government unduly to take up the time of private Members in such a discussion by giving the point of view which they hold. 1065 May I add to the shock which I have just delivered regarding the length of speeches, a tribute which I think I can pay to every single speaker for the sincerity with which the case he has presented has been put forward? The Debate has reminded me of one of the few seconds, or half-minutes, of leisure which I had during the summer in the course of my tour with the Minister of Labour, when I understood what energy meant. I was able to turn aside at a bookstall on one of the railway platforms and to purchase a book entitled "Pros and Cons." This book provided me with arguments on every known political subject; it was a most useful vade mecum for a Member of Parliament; and I have been reminded of that book by the pros and cons put forward in this Debate. We have really had a Debate, and I think the House is always to be congratulated when both sides of a question are sincerely and squarely put.
The hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Paling), to whom a tribute has already been paid for the ginger of his speech, raised the subject of coal mines. I am afraid that I cannot go at great length into the question of the hours of work in coal mines, for the reason that as regards the regulation of hours nationally my hon. and gallant Friend the Secretary for Mines has already received a deputation of the executive committee of the Miners' Federation and is already considering representations which they made to him. Pending that consideration by the Government I can make no further statement on that subject to-night, but the matter is receiving serious and active consideration. With regard to the references to the international sphere in connection with the regulation of the working hours in coal mines, a tripartite conference is to be held at Geneva in April to deal with this matter. It has always been the policy of the Government in the international sphere in connection with this question to look into the practical results of these general considerations and the system of a tripartite conference was so successful in the case of the textile industry at Washington that I hope it will be repeated in the case of the tripartite conference on the coal industry to be held in April at Geneva, but with this difference, that I trust more time and consideration will be given to the subject in this tripartite conference than was given during my visit to Geneva to the 1066 very practical and excellent results of the tripartite conference in the textile industry.
The hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Sexton), in a sincere speech on the strain of modern industry, gave one of the reasons why the subject of the shortening of hours had been raised. That is the reason put forward in the recent report of the Director of the International Labour Office in which he said that the nerve strain of modern industry was so great that we must all give serious consideration to the shortening of hours. The other reason, which has been advanced in previous years, at any rate in the international field, was that which was included in the original Motion, and that is the relief of unemployment. Therefore, both the main reasons for the reduction of hours have been put by hon. Members opposite. I should like to say at this stage that the Government are entirely sympathetic to the possible reduction of hours in industry, and for both of the reasons given. We are at one in realising the strain of modern industry, and if we can devise any method of reducing unemployment we are out to use it; but we do not think this is perhaps the very best method of reducing unemployment. We believe that the very best method is to provide more work, and that we have done with some success. Since 1931 there are between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 more people in work, with new jobs; it would be trite for me to repeat the reduction in the figures of unemployment in that period.
We have some difficulty in accepting the shortening of hours of work as being the one efficient method of reducing unemployment, for the reason that it presupposes certain suppositions; first, that the unemployed are distributed among occupations in proportion to the numbers already employed in each occupation, which unfortunately is not the case. I think it is always worth while to look into the details of a problem. Secondly, it presupposes that the unemployed are evenly distributed and could be easily moved to the new opportunities which would be created in certain districts by a shortening of hours. Thirdly, it presupposes that there are a large number of the unemployed who are permanently and wholly unemployed, which is not the case if the registers are examined. It also 1067 presupposes that those already in employment will be able to receive for shorter hours of work the same earnings as before, and that the total volume of business and of employment would not be diminished by reason of the increase of costs.
In referring to the question of earnings let me congratulate the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment on the practical nature of their speeches. They illustrate to us in this Amendment what appears to the Government the most sensible decision which the House could take at this stage on this matter. They refer to the danger to the workpeople of this country of our coming to any decision such as is contained in the original Motion. To maintain competitive power, as was pointed out by the hon. Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley) and the hon. and gallant Member for Erdington (Wing-Commander Wright), industries have to counteract in some way increased charges. The House would do well to weigh carefully the possible effect upon earnings of a compulsory and general reduction of hours such as is suggested in the Motion. What effect would it have upon the earnings of the workpeople? However idealistic we may be in this direction, and many of us have ideals in connection with the reduction of working hours, the contents of the pay envelope are one of the most powerful factors influencing the mind of the workpeople when they consider this matter. I want to see for a few minutes what the industries have achieved by the method of collective bargaining which is referred to in the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport. It is very interesting, when we examine some of the results of the system of collective bargaining to realise that the workpeople have decided to take the advantage given by what the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) referred to as this rich country and its rich productivity; they have decided to take in most cases increased wages. In a good many agreements I have been glad to see the introduction of holidays with pay.
We welcome all those advances in the field of improvements in labour conditions. If we look into the results of collective bargaining, it is rather interesting to answer the hon. Member for 1068 Wentworth by telling him that industries such as printing have reduced hours from 48 to 45, boot and shoe manufacture from 48 to 46, flour milling day workers from 47 to 44 and shift workers from 44 to 42, and heating and domestic engineering from 47 to 44. Other industries in which reductions have been made are ship repairing on the Thames, 45 to 44, quarries—this is on a point which will answer the hon. Member for Barnard Castle, but this is lime stone and port-land stone-47 to 44, and heavy chemicals (shift workers) from 56 to 48.
§ Mr. Butler
It is right that we should have accuracy in these matters. These are improvements in the hours of work that have been made in the last few years by collective bargaining. They will not go so far as some hon. Members will desire, but they show that the system which we are recommending to-night has definite advantages.
The question I want to put to the House on behalf of the Government is whether it is worth taking up the challenge of hon. Members opposite that we should adopt immediate means to shorten the working hours. It can mean only State intervention by legislation, which has been mentioned by several speakers. The question is whether it is worth while destroying the whole system of voluntary collective bargaining in industry between representatives of the workpeople and of the employers by imposing State coercion from the top. We maintain that the risk is not worth taking. We have maintained that point of view in discussions at Geneva, and we maintain it here. We have been called—I personally have been called this afternoon—reactionary for taking that line. I do not regard myself as a reactionary, nor do I regard the policy of the Government as reactionary. I regard the policy of the Government as being to save the freedom of our workpeople and our employers to negotiate together. Freedom is challenged all over the world, and it is a surprise to us that freedom in the industrial constitution of this country is being challenged by hon. Members opposite.
§ Mr. Hayday
Is the Minister aware—I have been to every international conference and international discussion on this matter—that the trade union movement has fully endorsed my action, taken at their direction, for a 40-hour convention?
§ Mr. Butler
I am glad to have had that interesting intervention from the hon. M ember. Before I sit down I would like to assure the House that the Government are not going to remain satisfied with the progress already achieved. Certain criticisms have been made during this Debate. The Government would not do right to stand on the ground that the collective bargaining already existing in this country is sufficient. There are many trades outside collective bargaining, and therefore argument on that ground would not stand. Let me take up the challenge and say that the Government have already undertaken discussions with a large number of employers' organisations in various industries, and with the Trades Union Congress General Council, on the subject of the absorption of unemployed into industry, including the proposal for the reduction of hours of work as a remedy for unemployment. I do not want to read out another catalogue of industries, but I could mention a number of industries in which the Government have undertaken discussions of this sort, which have had the result of stimulating, in those industries, examination of the various means by which more employment could be given and hours further reduced. Apart from such industries as engineering, iron and steel, wool textile, building, electricity supply, and so forth, the Government have deliberately undertaken discussions and action with other industries, such as the distributive trades.
There has been a certain amount of question in this House whether the Government would undertake discussions of this sort with the distributive trades, but I am glad to say that not only have discussions been undertaken, but many joint agreements have been made. The most important of these was that provisionally settled a fortnight ago, covering 80,000 employés in grocery multiple firms throughout the country. This is an example which shows that the Government are not standing still, and, when I tell the House that discussions are also taking place with both sides in the baking 1070 trade and in the rubber goods and cinema trades, and that returns for an inquiry into conditions in the cinema industry are being received in the Ministry of Labour at the rate of about 100 a day. it will be seen that we are a Government of action, and are not content to rest upon what has already been achieved. With regard to the catering trade, which is always raised by hon. Gentlemen opposite in an atmosphere of vehement criticism, it is proposed to hold conferences with a view to considering the regulating of conditions in that trade as well.
§ Miss Wilkinson
Does the hon. Gentleman realise, that as a result of the report of the recent Committee on Night Baking, nothing is being done in the baking trade whatever?
§ Mr. Butler
The hon. Lady must wait and see. I promised to try to restrict my remarks to a quarter of an hour, but the useful interventions of two hon. Members opposite have caused me to take two or three minutes more. I will conclude, without further imposing the views of the Government upon a private Members' Debate, by saying that we believe that this question involves one of the main aspects of the British belief in liberty. Hon. Members opposite seem to prefer the line of compulsion, but on this side we prefer the line of guidance. That is why I think the House would be wiser to support the Amendment, which, indeed, I should think it would be very difficult to oppose—an Amendment which indicates belief in leaving this question as far as possible to the discussion of both sides in the various industries concerned—with the assurance that the Government are not standing still, but are prepared to initiate further discussions and to try to improve the conditions in industry. I am very much obliged to hon. Gentlemen opposite for raising this point, and I only wish that I could take up their challenges and occupy the time of the House longer on this matter.
§ 10.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Short
A good deal of the time of the House lately has been given to discussions on foreign policy and the international situation. The present occasion is one on which we can turn our minds and our eyes to what might be termed the Home Front. My hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Paling) is to be congratulated on having 1071 brought this great and grave domestic issue to the consideration of us all. I must congratulate him on his vigour, and on the substance and character of his speech. At one time I thought he was likely to deliver an upper-cut to the Parliamentary Secretary before he had even left his corner. By sound arguments and appeal to reason, supported by a mass of evidence, I think he is justified in asking the House to vote for this Motion. The, movement for a shorter working day is gathering momentum and strength. Of course, this very necessary reform may be checked by reaction, by stupidity, by fear and hesitation, but I venture to say that if it is wilfully checked for any length of time, having regard to the facts, we shall pay a very severe penalty. Indeed, as the result of the neglect of the industrial revolution, we see scattered throughout the country monuments to that neglect which we to-day are being called upon to remove.
I would like to remind the House that the working class are no longer illiterate. They can read and write, and they see for themselves what is happening in other countries. They see that progressive employers are reducing hours from 47 to 45, and even to 40. They see that other countries are giving statutory authority to a 40-hour week, and they wonder that this Parliament, democratically elected, is not prepared to make some forward move in reducing the hours of labour, particularly having regard to the increased productivity of the people themselves. The Mover of the Amendment gave me the impression that he started work at a very early age. I see that he had a grammar school education, and also went to a University College. I rejoice that he had that opportunity. I did not. He said he did not feel that there was any great desire on the part of the working class for this great reform, but when he was working long hours, as he said he did, although he may have had the desire, I doubt whether his employers felt the desire, for any reduction in his hours of labour. He said, or he implied, that the slump in 1919 was caused by the reduction in hours.
§ Mr. Short
I venture to say that the slump was the aftermath of war. There was demobilisation, and millions of men 1072 coming back from the front. There were many factors calculated to disturb industry. The reduction of hours from 54 to 47 had nothing to do with the slump which occurred shortly after. The hon. Member also stressed the importance of negotiation, but he said that this reform—not the 40-hour week, but a substantial reduction in working hours, for which we are asking—could not be achieved, was not possible, nor, indeed, probable, because of the increasing cost of production. His speech was based upon the case put forward by the Engineering Employers' Federation. The very arguments which he used are to be found in the green books. We are told by the Parliamentary Secretary to negotiate. It is the policy of non-intervention. We are to leave it alone, do nothing, but always come down on the side of the employers, and that is what the Government intend to do. Negotiation! Why, the engineering industry have applied to the Engineering Employers' Federation for a reduction of hours—for a 40-hour week—and they have been told that the industry cannot afford it, and that it would ruin the employers, or words to that effect. What is the use of the hon. Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley) standing there moving his Amendment and telling us to go on with negotiations?
§ Sir A. Gridley
I suppose that the hon. Gentleman will admit that the employers have recently conceded a substantial increase in wages, and also holidays with pay?
§ Mr. Short
We arc not discussing that question at all, but I should think they have given advances in wages and agreed to holidays with pay having regard to the large profits in the engineering industry and the great impetus given by the Government to that industry by the proposed expenditure of £1,500,000,000 in the production of armaments. The Seconder of the Amendment made a more friendly speech, and I believe that, on the whole, he is friendly towards the proposal for the reduction of hours. He brought in this argument of wages, and, as already pointed out by the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander), we spent hours upstairs passing legislation fixing the hours of labour of women and young children without any regard to wages at all. Parliament is constantly compelled to interfere, and we seek Parliamentary 1073 interference, to reduce the hours of labour because of the millions of workers who are working in excess of 48 hours a week, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth said, are working 50, 60, 70, and, I believe, in some cases, nearly 80 hours per week, and in some cases without any extra pay in the shape of overtime.
The Motion has been widely and wisely drafted. It asks this House to support the policy for securing a substantial reduction in working hours. If we can get unanimous support for this Motion, it will give impetus to the great movement for the reduction of working hours. The Amendment is in favour of the reduction of hours where practicable without any reduction in earnings, but it expresses the view that any adjustments should be left for settlement by negotiation. Where practicable." I know of few industries at the present time, having regard to our prosperity—we have been told repeatedly from the Government Front Bench that the National Government has created prosperity—that could not bring about a substantial reduction in working hours. There is no time like the present for bringing about a reform of this character, when we have such a large measure of prosperity. Professor Sargant Florence, the great advocate of the 40-hour week, recently said:I am an enthusiastic advocate of shorter and even shorter hours, but I believe that the reduction should be made, as it usually has been made, in time of prosperity, but in depressed trades shorter hours with the same weekly wage are a doubtful remedy for unemployment.[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I have not hesitated to quote the last part of the Professor's opinion. Now is the time, when we are prosperous, to make a change which industry could afford to make, and which would not have that disturbing and dislocating effect upon industry which it is imagined would follow.
Reference has been made to the fact that reduction of earnings is not mentioned in our Motion. It is not mentioned because the Labour party will be no party to a reduction of working hours followed by a reduction in wages. A reduction in earnings would partly defeat the purpose and value of a reduction of working hours. We must maintain the standard rates of the earnings of the workers if we reduce the working hours. We do not say that 1074 this proposal would be a solution for unemployment, but we believe that it would absorb a large number of the unemployed, and if we increase the purchasing power of a larger number of people in employment it will add to the prosperity of the country.
§ Mr. Short
I am not going to be drawn into that argument. I am talking of wages and earnings. If a man is receiving £2 a week for a 47-hour week he will receive £2 a week for a 40-hour week. That is what the workmen and the men in-the-street understand. I want to be fair. It would not be sufficient to reduce hours and increase wages if there was no increase in production. You must have a corresponding increase in production, and I believe that as a result of the reduction of hours there would follow greater efficiency, a better standard of health, greater keenness and a correspondingly greater measure of production.
I turn to deal with the argument about negotiation. We have always heard this argument. It is a delaying, a putting off argument; a non-intervention argument. Let me point out that we have 4,000,000 workers who are organised or a little over; and some 13,000,000 insured persons. There are over 20,000,000 people in occupations. We have millions of workers in this country—I am speaking of adults, not of young people—who are unorganised, there is nobody to negotiate for them and nobody to negotiate with. What does the Parliamentary Secretary propose to do in this case? He quoted cases where the industry is well and efficiently organised. We know that the iron and steel industry has reduced the hours to 44 by negotiation. We know that there are other industries which have reduced working hours as a result of negotiation, but we have failed lamentably and miserably to secure any improvement in the hours of the great masses of the workers who are unorganised in our various industries. We desire the State to intervene. We desire it to follow the example of other countries. We desire that this country should withdraw its opposition at Geneva to international agreements and international conventions. We desire the State to lay down the 1075 maximum number of hours; and industry is quite capable of adjusting itself to the changes which will be effected. The hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. McCorquodale) referred to France. Is he seriously going to tell the House that the dislocation and disturbances in France are due to the 40hour week?
§ Mr. McCorquodale
Yes, by putting up their prices by a large amount, and that is what we do not want to see in this country. The rise in their case was over 30 per cent.
§ Mr. Short
The hon. Member has not reduced the hours of workers in his own industry in this country to 40, but he has put up his prices in order to meet a small reduction of hours. If there is any crisis in France it is not due to the 40hour week, but to the jiggery-pokery work of financiers. [Interruption.] Evidently I have said something of interest. No doubt there is a great deal of underground opposition by employers. There is no doubt that the mechanisation of industry coupled with rationalisation has thrown, and is throwing, a large number of people out of work. There are one or two quotations that I would like to give to the House. Sir Josiah Stamp said:Men have been pushed out by machinery far more quickly than they have been absorbed elsewhere.The "Statist," after making an inquiry into reduction, said:This increase in productivity of each worker has gone hand in hand with an increase in the number of unemployed.Sir Harold Bowden said:Machinery has been for many years visibly displacing men from employment in all industries. No economic processes can ever find remunerative work for them elsewhere, for science is progressively diminishing the demand for man-power.The Parliamentary Secretary was not very helpful in his remarks. He was sympathetic, and said that he appreciated the strain, and would like to see the number of unemployed reduced. Let me point out to the Parliamentary Secretary that 1076 we have never said that this reform would in itself terminate unemployment. We have made the suggestion in this Motion that it would absorb a number of unemployed and that there would be a corresponding social improvement in their lives, and that the community would benefit considerably. The Parliamentary Secretary talked about freedom. There is no dispute with us as far as real freedom is concerned. This party stands for freedom, and is bitterly opposed to anything in the nature of Fascism or to any system which would interfere with the voluntary organisation of trade unions or of this Parliament. But does the Parliamentary Secretary mean freedom for children to continue to work these scandalous hours mentioned by my hon. Friend? Does he mean freedom for adults to continue to work 60, 70 and 80 hours a week? Does he mean freedom for large numbers of the working class to work long hours, in some cases without any increased payment for overtime? The hon. Gentleman has introduced the word "freedom" to sidetrack us, but he will not accomplish his object. As to costs of production, the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment said that to implement the 40-hour week in the engineering industry would mean an increase of 6 per cent. in the costs of production. That figure is quoted in the engineering employers' and workers' reports. Does anybody think that any industry will go under because of an increase of 6 per cent. in the costs of production? If there is any dispute, let me read what was said by Sir Malcolm Stewart on this matter. He said:How can industrialists seek to reduce unemployment Surely by working shorter hours and employing more men. We should not wait for international agreements which may be long-delayed. Many will say that shorter hours will place an unbearable burden on industry by increasing the costs of production and that the export of our products will be made more difficult. It is true that initially the costs of production would be somewhat increased, but I am convinced the advantages to industry from the ensuing improved efficiency, particularly where the working ours could be condensed into a five-working-day week, and from decreased unemployment, would go far to mitigate the increase of costs, once experience is gained. The home trade would be generally stimulated by the greater spending power of the additional numbers employed, and it is almost impossible to over-estimate the gain through the improved morale brought about by the exchange of despair for hope. Better efficiency and a more prosperous home market would 1077 react favourably on costs of many products exported.That is a statement from a very eminent and distinguished employer of labour which, to my mind, is convincing. I believe that industry to-day is more capable of making the adjustments than ever in its history. I pay this tribute. I know there is a lot of bad employers but I believe that the majority, well organised in their employers' federations, though there may be diehards here and there, as the Mover of the Amendment said, in the main are quick witted, are progressive, are ready to make the change, and they are capable, because of their efficiency, to make the necessary adjustments should there be a reduction in the hours which we are advocating. Though I have not to-day the same association that I used to have by way of negotiations, I have had as great experience of meeting employers individually and collectively as any man in this House, and I have seen a marked change in the mental attitude of many of them. I think it is a reflection on many of the employers of the country when we say that they are incapable of making the necessary adjustments that would follow, and very rightly follow, if we achieved this reform.
No one can deny that there has been a great increase in productivity. In the mining industry, mechanisation of the industry is going on apace—55 per cent. of the output, I think the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Paling) said, was due to machinery. The output per man is increasing, but neither in the coal industry nor in any of the industries, except a few, have the workers been compensated for the greater output, the greater intensity, of their labour. On that ground and others I venture to suggest that the House would do well to support this Motion and to achieve ultimately this reform.
Mention has been made of Boots. I have read the document of Sir Richard Redmayne with interest and pleasure. Costs have not increased; there has been a great improvement in the health, in the contentment, and in the happiness, of the great masses of people who work for that firm. Absenteeism has been reduced and there has been, as I say, a vast improvement throughout Boots' industry. I venture to ask the House to support this Motion. I know full well that the Mover 1078 and Seconder of the Amendment will be satisfied with having expressed their views. I hope they will withdraw the Amendment and let the House of Commons be united in its demand for a substantial reduction in working hours, which will not only bring happiness to great masses of the workpeople but be followed by vast social improvement for the country in general.
§ 10.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Hayday
In the few minutes that remain I wish to refer briefly to two very specious arguments which have been used from the Government side. One is that in the increased competition which would be met with in the international markets British industry would be handicapped if a shortening of hours took place. The other argument came from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, who has suddenly found a new role—that of special advocate for the trade unions. I have been present at Geneva at all the international discussions on the subject of the 40-hour week. All my actions there were dictated by decisions of the great British trade union movement. We have asked that certain conventions should be ratified by the various Governments concerned and I wish emphatically to call attention to what I consider to be the gross hypocrisy of the British Government of the day in their pretence of sympathy with the shorter hour movement, when that pretence is compared with their attitude at Geneva. At Geneva it was once a pleasure to imagine that the British Government representative was in the lead in supporting international measures for the amelioration of the lot of the workers. But on the subject-matter of the shorter working week, never but once and that was in the case of the sheet glass convention have they voted in support of the eight hours proposal.
I ask the Government here and now what is going to be their position in relation to the textile convention which was passed in spite of their opposition? It is not as though the British Government were being asked to do what other countries are unwilling to do. America absorbed 8,000,000 of her unemployed when she brought in the shortening of the weekly hours to as low as 36 in some cases, with a very much enhanced weekly income for the workers concerned. It is 1079 not as though in France there had been any tragic results from putting into operation the 40-hour week. It is really the case that Great Britain, which at one time claimed that she would give better conditions if the backward countries could only be brought up to our level, can no longer take that position. While America and France, as well as New Zealand and others of our Dominions and Colonies, support the shorter hour movement, we find that they are in one group while Great Britain is in an opposition group in company with Japan, China and India, supporting reactionary countries. We are now taking part with the backward
§ countries and can no longer claim the pride of place which we used to claim. It is only so much hypocrisy to talk from the Government Benches, amid cheers almost of compassion, about the Government's love for the trade union movement and their great desire to bring about reforms, when in fact they are most active in opposing those reforms when they get the opportunity of doing so.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 123; Noes, 139.1081
|Division No. 3.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Noel-Baker, P. J.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Groves, T. E.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Parker, J.|
|Amnion, C. G.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Hardie, Agnes||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Price, M. P.|
|Bonfield, J. W.||Hayday, A.||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Barr, J.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Ridley, G.|
|Batey, J.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Riley, B.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Hopkin, D.||Ritson, J|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Benson, G.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bevan, A.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Broad, F. A.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Shinwell, E.|
|Bromfield, W.||Kelly, W. T.||Short. A.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Buchanan, G.||Kirby, B. V.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Burke, W. A.||Kirkwood, D.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Cape, T.||Lathan, G.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lawson, J. J.||Sorensen, R- W.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Leach, W.||Stephen, C.|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Lee, F.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Daggar, G.||Leonard, W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Dalton, H.||Leslie, J. R.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Logan, D. G.||Viant, S. P.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lunn, W.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Debbie, W.||McEntee, V. La T.||Walker, J.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||McGhee, H. G.||Watson, W. McL,|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||MacLaren, A||Westwood, J.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||MacNeill, Weir, L.||White, H. Graham|
|Frankel, D.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Gallacher, W.||Mander, G. le M.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Gardner, B. W.||Marshall, F.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Mathers, G.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Maxton, J.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Messer, F.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Milner, Major J.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Montague, F.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Muff, G.||Mr. Paling and Mr. Sexton.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Bossom, A. C.||Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Boulton, W. W.||Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Courtauld, Major J. S.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Cox, H. B. T.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Butler, R. A.||Cross, R. H.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Carver, Major W. H.||Crossley, A. C.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)||Crowder, J. F. E.|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Gazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Cruddas, Col, B.|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Channon, H.||De Chair, S. S.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Denville, Alfred|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Rowlands, G.|
|Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Kimball, L.||Royds, Admiral P. M. R.|
|Duggan, H. J.||Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)||Russell, Sir Alexander|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Salt, E. W.|
|Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Liddalt, W. S.||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Eimley, Viscount||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Selley, H. R.|
|Emery, J. F.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||McKie, J. H.||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)|
|Everard, W. L.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Somervell. Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Furness, S. N.||Marsden, Commander A.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Spens. W. P.|
|Ganzoni, Sir J.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Storey, S.|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Mitcheson, Sir G. G.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake)||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Guinness, T. L. E. B.||Munro, P.||Turton, R. H.|
|Hannah, I. C.||Nall, Sir J.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Herbord, A.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Hepworth, J.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Higgs, W. F.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Holmes, J. S.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Hope, Captain Hon. A.O. J.||Patrick, C. M.||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Hopkinson, A.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Plugge, Capt. L. F.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Hewitt, Dr. A. B.||Procter, Major H. A.||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Hunter, T.||Rayner, Major R. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hutchinson, G. C.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Wing-Commander Wright and|
|James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)||Mr. McCorquodale.|
|Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
§ Question proposed, "That the proposed words be there added."
§ It being after Eleven of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.