§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 11.6 a.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacMillan
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
The purpose of this Bill is to secure the recognition by this House and by Parliament of the right by law of British workers to a full fortnight's holiday in each year without loss of wages. This is not the first time that a Bill for this purpose has been presented to the House. This is, indeed, the fourth such Bill to be introduced. On three previous occasions the House by a substantial majority has given a Second Reading to a Bill on these lines, a precedent which will, I hope, be followed on this occasion. The first of these Bills was introduced in 1925 by one of my hon. Friends under the Ten Minutes Rule and the House accepted the principle of that Bill without any Division. In 1929 Mr. Winterton, who at that time represented Loughborough, introduced a similar Bill as a Private Member, and the Second Reading of that Bill was carried by 184 votes to 63. Last year my hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Rowson) introduced a Bill substantially the same as that which I am now commending to the House. The Second Reading of that Bill was carried by 150 votes to 58.
On all those occasions the House voted, I think it will be agreed, in the same way as the public outside would vote upon this question if it were submitted to them for their decision. Those Bills had the support of Members of all parties in the House. The Labour party, including the trade union representatives, voted solidly for them. The Liberal party voted for them and some hon. Members opposite voted for them, while those who spoke against the proposal damned it with remarkably faint dispraise. If the Government had been in earnest upon the subject, time would have been found long ago for this Measure of beneficial social legislation. But, unfortunately, we know that although a Second Reading is often secured for a Measure of this kind, more things are wrought in Committee than are dreamt of in our electorate's philosophy. The hopes of millions 2022 of our fellow-citizens have been raised time and time again by this House when it has given a Second Reading by a substantial majority to a Bill on these lines, and time after time those hopes have been cruelly dashed by the action or inaction of the Government.
Let us examine the international position in relation to this question. It was brought up at the International Labour Office in October, 1933. It was agreed that it should be placed on the agenda for the, 9th Session of the Conference in 1936. On account of the report which was prepared by the International Labour Office for that session, it was decided to discuss the matter in 1936–37 and to circulate a questionnaire to the States members of the Conference. The information secured by that questionnaire showed that in many countries holidays with pay were a legal right of the workers, and I propose to quote a number of examples. In Belgium, by an Act of 8th July, 1936, a scheme was established of annual holidays with pay covering all occupations except, unfortunately, agriculture. Bulgaria, which was supposed, with Britain, to be hopelessly behind other countries in these matters, by an enactment of 5th September, 1936, provided holidays with pay for all employed persons.
Then Cuba in July, 1936, ordained holidays with pay for all industrial and commercial undertakings employing over five workers or salarised employés. Again, unfortunately, agricultural workers and domestic servants are excluded. I say "unfortunately" because I have a peculiar interest in agricultural workers and their conditions. In France, in June, 1936, an Act was passed providing that every worker, salaried employé and apprentice, employed in industry and commerce, or in the liberal professions, or in co-operative organisations, and every journeyman and apprentice in a handicraft workshop, should be entitled to an annual holiday with pay of at least two weeks. This Act was passed not only for France itself but was extended to Tunisia. In Germany since 1936 there has been an annual holiday with pay for different groups of workers on terms specially arranged by districts and industries. No objection can be raised to this Bill in regard to that point re district and particular industries; and we are making 2023 allowance for it when the Bill reaches Committee.
Then we come to Italy, another dictator country, and we find that the Fascist confederation of employers and workers were compelled by an instruction of the Ministry of Corporations in 1936 to adopt an agreement according what they term the "inalienable right" of holidays with pay. In Norway the Workers Protection Act of June, 1936, made holidays with pay compulsory. Then in Peru a decree of December, 1936, established the basis of payments for the annual holiday which had been legally enforced since 1932. Now the original enactment has been extended by that decree of 1936. To give another example of the fact that holidays with pay are the rule in what some Members opposite call backward countries, I will point out that, in Soviet Russia, this is laid down, not merely as a law, but as a fundamental right of citizens under the new constitution, while, even in Venezuela, there is an Act which makes holidays with pay compulsory.
These examples stretch from Western Europe to South America, and I would particularly point out the example of New Zealand with regard to agricultural workers. We find progressive examples in Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the Union of South Africa; and, even in the United States, they are now beginning to consider the problem of legislating to make holidays with pay compulsory. The position in Britain we all know. As I say, on three occasions the House has expressed its approval of this principle by a substantial majority. The last Bill which was presented with the object of legislating to make holidays with pay compulsory for all workers went to a Committee, but Conservative Amendments robbed it of its compulsory effect, and thereby robbed it of any actual value.
I bring this Bill forward in order that the House should have an opportunity, which really it should not still need at this late stage, of confirming its judgment on those several previous occasions on this subject. I see on the Paper that an Amendment is to be moved, but I wish those hon. Members who are moving and supporting it would agree to its graceful withdrawal rather than its emphatic rejection, as it is substantially the same Amendment as was previously 2024 moved, but with a little opportunist additional phrase about investigation by a Departmental Committee. I hope not only that the Amendment will be withdrawn, but that the opinion of this House, confirmed repeatedly by substantial majorities, will be respected by the Government and time given to have this Bill put through Committee and made effective at law. The Government, up to the present, with all due respect to those of their supporters who have supported the Bill, have been hopelessly behind the opinion, and have shown no respect for the findings, of this House on this question. They lag behind international opinion also, and far behind almost all the other member States of the International Labour Office at Geneva, so that we really do hope that we shall see some progress made on this occasion. The least that I hope—and it is a very modest request— is that once again this House will affirm its belief in this principle.
Do not let us imagine that we are giving a tremendous concession or treat to these people who toil throughout the year. We are only confirming their rights, which have so far been denied, denied against all feeling of human decency and against the feelings both of this House and of this country. There are many people who get holidays, but who do not get paid holidays; that is to say, they are annually suspended for a week, 10 days, or a fortnight from the privilege of working for that time along with the other 50 weeks of the year. We are only depriving them of that opportunity of so-called earning what is a low enough wage, and employers are not by unpaid so-called holidays, conferring any tremendous blessing on them. Indeed such unpaid holidays are a period of dread for many of them, both before and after, because they have to economise one way and another out of their already miserable wages in order to live over and to live down those holidays. Remember also that if people go away for a holiday, they cannot do it on the ordinary wage on which they simply have to live from day to day. They have to travel to the seaside and back, or in-.0 the country and back again, and that costs money. Even if we give them a fortnight with pay, we have to allow for the fact that they are economising in order to pay their travelling fares, and besides people like to 2025 spend a little more on themselves and on their families when they go away to the sea or into the country. They do not want to live in the ordinary way, as they do through the dull drudgery of the year, but they want to spend a little more and to have more freedom. These things ought all to be considered, and we ought to take what is not merely a "sentimental," but a human and humane view of the matter.
Now let us turn for a moment to the Clauses of the Bill. In passing, I notice that the Bill is published, as usual, by His Majesty's Stationery Office, and I should like to be told that I am wrong when I suggest that some of the staff of that office themselves do not enjoy annual holidays with pay. I understand that a section of the workers, some of those called the industrial staff, have holidays, but not with pay; but I shall be very glad to be told that I am wrong, if I am wrong.
The first Clause of the Bill speaks of two weeks' holiday annually. On the last occasion an hon. and gallant Member who opposed the Bill, not on principle, but on what I might, without disrespect, call Committee points, objected that he himself already gave 12 days' holiday with pay annually, and he thought that the tendency would be, if you made it compulsory to give eight days with pay, that employers who were giving more than that would reduce it to the lower standard. I do not think that that would be the tendency at all, and I am sure that the hon. and gallant Member would be the last person himself to do it. I think I have satisfied him, and a little more possibly, and I hope he will not grumble about the two extra days that he will be compelled to give by law if this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament. The first Clause provides that two normal working weeks' holiday with pay shall be given, and states thatevery contract of service or apprenticeship shall be deemed to contain a provision to that effect.There is nothing new there, apart from the change in the number of days' holiday, and they are not more extensive than many good employers already give. There is a new Sub-section in the Clause, where it is allowed that occasion may arise where it may be necessary or advisable, or the wish of the worker, to have 2026 his holiday perhaps not in one unbroken period of a fortnight, but intwo periods each consisting of not less than one normal working week.I think there is nothing much that the House need trouble about there. Subsection (3) is the same as last year. Then Clause 2 states:Where a person is having a holiday by reason of the operation of the provisions of this Act, he shall be deemed to continue in the service of his employer and wages shall be paid to him without deduction as though he were at work full time…That is the basis under the Bill of the question of paid holidays as distinct from suspension from work without pay. It goes on:subject only to the deduction of any sums which he may have earned in any other employment during the period of such holiday.There was some criticism on this point last year, the Bill has an element of compulsion in it, a worker being expected to take advantage of the holiday provided. The interest also of his family should be considered in this matter. He may be a voracious glutton for work who prefers to sacrifice his family's holiday as well as his own on an occasion of this kind in order to make a few shillings more. We are out to prevent that sort of thing, and there is a compulsory element in the Bill there. There is also the question of his health and his greater efficiency when he returns to work. In Clause 3 there is provision for penalties for non-compliance with the Act and punishment for anti-social breaches of the law established by Parliament, and I think nobody will quarrel with that provision. In Clause 4 provision is made for the making of regulations and Orders in Council for carrying the Act into effect, which is necessary for the purposes of administration and execution, and I do not think there was any serious quarrel last time with a similar Clause.
Clause 5 is an attempt to deal with and prevent any practice of contracting out. Clause 6 regulates the method by which wages shall be calculated for the purpose of this Bill. It is a method that will, no doubt, be dealt with and elaborated in Committee; it cannot be dealt with in a Second Reading Debate. It makes provision for piece-workers and those who are partly piece-workers and partly time-workers. It also provides for the settlement of disputes arising under the Clause. 2027 They will be decided by the registrar of the county court in England upon the application of any party, and his decision shall be conclusive and binding. For Scotland there is the usual substitute of the sheriff clerk. In Clause 7 provision is made that the holiday to which under this Bill the worker will be entitled shall be in addition to his usual or "customary" holidays. Clause 8 makes provision for the calculation of the duration of the holiday and wages due in broken employment and the amount of wages payable to a man who loses his employment, say, half-way through a given year. It is provided that he shall be given a proportionate share of wages in respect of the holiday to which he was entitled. The last two Clauses are self-explanatory.
I am sure the House will agree that the Bill has the virtue of brevity, that it contains almost no legislation by reference, and that it is realist in that it preserves a Second Reading character, so that on the Committee stage many problems can be brought forward and possibly many modifications made. With regard to the Amendment on the Paper, the first part is substantially the same as that of last year. I do not think that there is any more reason on this occasion than there was on the last for treating the Amendment tenderly or for affording it any more sympathetic treatment. My hon. Friend the Member for Dunferm-line (Mr. Watson) will deal more in detail with the terms of the Amendment. The pious phrase occurs at the beginning of it—while welcoming the development of the practice of granting holidays with pay by voluntary agreement.This may be described as a pious and futile expression of ostensible good will. It is easy virtue to applaud the status quo. Hon Members who support the Amendment welcome holidays with pay where they are given already and give an unofficial blessing to their extension, but they do not do anything to extend the benefit to the millions of people who are deprived of this right. It simply expresses a pious view. The whole aim and purpose of the Bill is to extend the granting of paid holidays as a legal right, beyond dispute by bad employers, to all British workers. It is no good trying to get round it by giving it an unofficial 2028 blessing and saying that it is a nice Bill and we hope that by voluntary agreement somebody will do something more here and there. That is rather a cowardly attitude to take towards a question of this kind. We will, therefore, reject the first part of the Amendment at its face value and turn to its other parts. The Amendment goes on to say,further information is required on the whole problem and cannot assent to the Second Reading of a Bill while a departmental committee is investigating the relevant facts and has not yet reported.On the last occasion when this Bill was discussed there appeared to be no lack of the relevant facts, and the House came to an emphatic decision. It was discussed very frilly. Arguments were brought forward on both sides clearly, but supporters of the Amendment now profess that they lack the relevant facts. We will accept that confession from them, but why do they consider in their vaunted ignorance that the House should not give a Second Reading to the Bill? Apparently they are prepared to produce "facts" to back up their uninformed arguments. The House has repeatedly had plenty of facts before it, and repeatedly given the Bill a Second Reading. The hon. Member whose name appears second on the list of supporters of the Amendment always manages with his alleged facts to convince himself, although never this House, that he has arguments to oppose this Measure of social reform. I suppose that we are to assume from the supporters of the Government who have put down the Amendment that when the Government's representative went to Geneva to sabotage this principle he, too, went out with the ignorance which the hon. Member now professes.
But the higher authority than a Departmental Committee has already emphatically given its decision on this question. A higher authority than any Government has spoken. That authority is the House of Commons, and when the hon. Member or the Government go against that decision they are going against the decision of the House and the representatives of the people, and going right in the face of public opinion. I have no doubt that if an election were fought to-morrow on this issue alone, the Government would not dare face it, or they would be too cunning to oppose it.
2029 I am not attempting to tie the House down to the details of the Bill as it stands. What we really want, and what is the urgent consideration, is the admission of the basic principle of the Bill. Given a Second Reading and acceptance of the principle by the House, I am prepared to go a long way to meet many points during the Committee stage. In reply to an hon. Member who spoke on the last occasion, we are not attempting under this Bill to take away the powers of trade unions or their powers of negotiation. It is the intention of the supporters of the Bill that as much freedom of negotiation as possible should be allowed as between accredited representatives of the workers and the employers. If the workers can get better terms than those laid down in the Bill, good and well, we shall not interfere. What we really want is to get the principle laid down by law that all workers are to have a paid holiday annually.
The question of the cost to industry was discussed last year; but not at all with the bitterness which I had expected to be shown by the employers' side, and on this point I would like to quote from the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Sir J. Walker-Smith) who said on that occasion:If there are those who expect that the Bill is going to be opposed upon the ground that it is putting insuperable burdens on industry, they are doomed to disappointment. I do not believe that arguments of that kind could be or would be used. The arguments against the Bill are of a totally different character."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1936; cols 742–3, Vol. 318.]I am very glad to hear that, and I hope that the hon. Member is going to stick to that view to-day. I take it that we have the assurance of the only Members who alone are so strongly opposed to the Bill as to frame the solitary Amendment to it; that holidays with pay will not be opposed by them on the ground of the cost to industry, because that hon. Member has admitted that such arguments could not be used with any justice against the principles of the Bill. An hon. Lady opposite also made a very apt remark when discussing the cost:One of the criticisms levelled against the proposal contained in this Measure is that industry cannot afford it, and that it would interfere with industry. I agree with the hon. Member for Farnworth that the argument is as old as the hills and has been used in this 2030 House about every piece of factory and social legislation that has been proposed. Had it been listened to in the past, instead of having the very highest standard of social legislation in the world, we in this country would probably have the lowest. Fortunately, there are always enough progressive people in this House, of all parties, to see that things move steadily in the right direction. That to my mind is the great strength of our democratic and Parliamentary system. I think that this Measure would pay for itself many times over from the employers point of view, by better work and better health."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1936; cols. 755–6, Vol. 318.]The hon. Lady seems to have been speaking on that occasion for the employers, although her remarks could be quoted just as aptly from the point of view of the workers and from the national point of view. Hon. friends of mine who are supporting the Bill to-day gave detailed figures, when it was last discussed, showing how the cost of holidays with pay would bear upon industry, and they did not seem to cause any violent reaction among the employers on the benches opposite. Most of them agreed that the question of cost really does not affect the basic principle in any way.
I shall not weary the House with details of cost, because I understand the aspect of the question will be dealt with by certain other hon. Members who are better acquainted with it than I am, but I would refer to one example used on that occasion to show what the effect would be on the coal industry in Lancashire. Referring to negotiations between employers and employed the hon. Member for Farnworth said that the conclusion was arrived at that the cost of granting seven days holiday with pay to every man, woman and child engaged in that industry would amount only to 2¾d. per ton per annum. The figures were not disputed. Well, if that is true of coal, it can be more safely said that it is true, with possible minor exceptions, of other industries, because there the cost of labour enters less into production costs than in the coal industry. Even were the cost a substantial objection, it would still be no case against the right of millions of working men to be given holidays with pay. There would still be no reason to deny them that fundamental right. We must remember that it is they who make the production of wealth possible, and we must make some provision for the more efficient production of wealth and to safeguard the health of the people, because it is in the national interest to do 2031 so. The State ought to step in and, throughout industry, bring all employers up to the level of the practice of the best employers.
Next I should like to say a few words on the position of agricultural workers. We have realised too late—years too late—that agriculture has been neglected as has almost no other industry. There are thousands of men leaving the soil, and their families go with them, and thousands of acres are going fallow. We make great provision for depressed industrial areas, but even these are not the most fundamentally important areas. The areas which we can least afford to allow to become depressed are the agricultural areas, and the people who make agriculture possible. Yet the workers on the soil are the people who, in many of the instances I have quoted, with the notable exception of New Zealand, are almost entirely neglected in this respect. I hope that is a mistake which we shall not repeat. We have made enough mistakes about agricultural workers and agriculture, and I hope that on this occasion we shall try to make a little more pleasant the lot of the people who spend a pretty dreary time on the soil all the year round. They see much more mud than stars.
On the question of the voluntary principle—if the right of the workers to a holiday with pay could be safeguarded by any other means legislation would not be necessary—I do not like the word "compulsion"—but we must face the fact that legislation is necessary in this case. Most of the nations including South American countries and Australia and New Zealand as well as Europe are facing the question of the necessity for legislation to make paid holidays for workers compulsory, and this country's Government will also have to face up to the question. The House of Commons has faced up to it on repeated occasions and given its decision in favour of paid holidays, but still we have never had greater success than to secure a Second Reading for Bills. When we talk of the voluntary principle we must remember that there are bad employers, and that their attitude makes things difficult not only for the workers but for other employers. The employer who declines to grant his workers holidays with pay has a prima facie advantage over the employer who does. I do not believe that in the 2032 long run, objectively and from the point of view of efficient production, he has such an advantage, but he remains a bad employer because, on the surface of things, he appears to see that he is getting an advantage. No damage is done to the good employer by making it compulsory for the bad employer to recognise the principle of holidays with pay, and I do not think that any objection made in sympathy with the bad employer should lead good employers to ally themselves with the bad. I should not like to go into the Division Lobby and ally myself with the bad employer.
I cannot emphasise sufficiently the right of every human being who works for a living to have an annual holiday. An hon. Member opposite is apparently afraid that freedom of negotiation between trade unions and employers would be interfered with if the Bill became law. I cannot understand why he should be so tender about trade union freedom in this matter when he votes against it and us on so many other occasions. Moreover, the majority of the workers are still outside the trade unions. The organised workers number roughly 4,000,000, and there are still the rest of the 18,000,000 outside the voluntary organisations which are able to come to agreements with organised employers. In other words, about three-quarters of the working population of the country are unorganised. Some of the good employers have come to agreements with the trade unions. In transport, cotton, shipping, engineering and iron and steel, are most of the big battalions of industrial unionism, yet here and there in these great industries are millions without a paid holiday agreement through the trade unions. So poorly has the voluntary principle of annual holidays been followed that it became absolutely necessary for the question to be raised in this House, as in 1925 and several times since. The House has expressed its opinion of the voluntary system by agreeing with the compulsory system.
When it has suited hon. Gentlemen opposite they have made speeches, as did the Prime Minister three or four years ago, saying that we have recovered 80 per cent. of our prosperity. To judge by the increasing enthusiasm and jubilance on the part of hon. Members opposite we must have recovered it by at least another 80 per 2033 cent. since that speech was made; and I suggest that a little of that prosperity should be passed on to the creators of the prosperity. I would remind hon. Members that the money for which we ask would be spent by the workers not upon tours round the far corners of the world, but as near as possible to where they live, within the limited means of fares for transport at their disposal as perhaps when they take their week's holiday with their families by the nearest seaside. Then there is the association of this question with the physical fitness policy of the Government. Why should we not give the workers an opportunity of filling their lungs with ozone by the sea or stretching their limbs upon the springy moss of the moor? Why should we not give them a chance to go to the Highlands of Scotland, into the Lakelands of England or the mountains of Wales?
That is the best physical fitness policy the Government could possibly pursue. You would moreover give our people the chance to realise the beauty of places of which they have hitherto only heard and read. Give them an opportunity to go and see these things for themselves. The Bill would give such an opportunity to millions of people and I am sure that consideration ought to weight with hon. Members opposite. Let our people get out into the open spaces. Let them spend their money in places like the Highlands of Scotland. One of the few hopes in these days in such districts is that they will have more tourists spending their money there. Realise how important the tourist industry has been in Canada and Switzerland; it is just as important for Scotland. Every useful or constructive argument supports this Bill.
§ 11.51 a.m.
§ Mr. McLean Watson
I beg to second the Motion.
My hon. Friend has covered the ground so fully that my task in seconding his Motion will be a very light one. At the same time I would draw the attention of the House to certain features of this matter which I expect will be discussed during the remainder of our time between now and Four o'Clock. I hope on this occasion we shall have upon the Floor of the House some of the speeches that were delivered in Committee last Session. During the Second Reading Debate about 12 months ago, there was practically no 2034 opposition to the Measure, but by the time the Bill reached Committee we found there was a considerable amount of opposition. On the Floor of the House almost every Member who spoke expressed complete sympathy with the principle of the Bill, and we expected, after such an easy passage, that we should pass the Bill into law. When the Bill was taken into the darkness of the Committee Room, it had a knife stuck into it right at the beginning. It staggered on for three days and then collapsed. Now we come to the House with almost the same Measure, and ask again for a Second Reading.
It may have been a good thing that a Committee was appointed to inquire into the facts of this proposal, because we have been enabled to amend the Bill already. So much evidence has been laid before the Committee that we have had to extend the holiday period of the Bill. On the last occasion we were far too modest, in view of the evidence that has been laid before the Committee, but in the Bill hon. Members will now find a proposal for an extension of the period of holiday. I suppose we shall be told again that the Bill is crude, unworkable, impracticable and slipshod. We shall get the expression "slipshod" on the Floor of this House and the hon. Member who used it has again his name attached to the Amendment which, I suppose, will be moved. I agree that many hon. Members of this House have clear and logical minds and that they can see the shortcomings in any Bill which is submitted to the House, but I think it is not always easy for those Members to notice the same slipshod stuff in their own speeches.
I refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Barrow (Sir Walker-Smith), who seconded the Amendment on the last occasion, and whose name is attached to the Amendment which is on the Paper this morning. In the course of his examination of the Bill, he remarked that workers in the building trade would require to be excluded from the operation of the Bill, because they could not possibly be included. He led the House to believe that a building trade worker goes to a site where a building is to be erected, that he is engaged by the contractor and may work for a few days, a few weeks, or until the job is completed, and then goes off somewhere else. Is that exactly the position of the building trade 2035 workers in this country? The hon. Member, who detected so much slipshod work in the Bill which, was before the House last year—the same Bill that is before us this morning—used these words:In the building industry operatives are generally engaged at the site. A man goes on to the site and he is engaged at so much per hour for as many hours or days or weeks as the job may suit him or he may suit the employer, and then with one hour's notice on either side he goes to find some other work elsewhere.Now let us turn to the Book of Revelation, which will be found at column 747 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, where the same hon. Member said this:If it would not bore the House, I would like to explain that, as a result of co-operation between employers and operatives in the building industry, there is in course of being solved a problem which presented far more difficulties and intricacies than the question of holidays with pay. It is no other than that of providing payment for what is generally known as wet time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1936; cols. 744–7, Vol. 318.]The employers and the workers' representatives in the building industry could tackle problems of far greater intricacy than this question of holidays with pay, but, when it came to holidays with pay, it was absolutely impractible and slipshod. I hope we shall have none of these slipshod speeches this afternoon.
With regard to what happened to the Measure on the last occasion when it went upstairs, the Bill was practically defeated by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour—not the present holder of that office, but his predecessor. The hon. Gentleman's predecessor came out with a statement that a Departmental Committee appointed by the Minister was sitting to ascertain the facts with regard to the question of holidays with pay. It is right to say that even on the Parliamentary Secretary's own side he did not find unanimous support, and I hope he is not going to find unanimous support this morning. I see the hon. Member for Blackpool (Mr. R. Robinson) in his place, and I would like to remind him of what he said in that Committee. I expect that, if he gets an opportunity of taking part in the Debate to-day, he will follow practically the same line. Here is what the hon. Member said:Many of us are getting very tired of the method of legislation by inquiry, by which we 2036 ask a few outsiders to give us their views and then we accept those views, whether they are right or wrong. We arc here to do the work ourselves, and I hope that the Committee will not deviate from that principle, but will apply the knowledge that Members of all parties undoubtedly possess and produce a really work— able Bill. Why should we pass it on to a Committee? Why should Parliament stand on one side and allow social reforms to go forward without giving some practical and concrete help itself?OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee A) 23rd February, 1937; cols. 390–391].That was very good, coming from the hon. Member for Blackpool, and I hope that other hon. Members opposite will take the same view this afternoon. There is really only one question at isssue here, and I do not care whether it is settled here this afternoon or when the Committee that is investigating the matter reports. There is only one question to be settled, and that is whether holidays with pay are to be compulsory or by voluntary agreement. This Bill lays it down that a specific number of holidays with pay are to be compulsorily given, and the division this afternoon will show how hon. Members view this question of compulsion. The Committee has been appointed. It is under the chairmanship of Lord Amulree, and it is composed of a number of very able industrialists, both on the employers' side and on the trade union side, with a number of others more or less disinterested. How that Committee may view the evidence that has been submitted to it I do not know. I suppose that, as usual, we shall have a majority report and a minority report, and, when we have received those reports, we shall be in exactly the same position in which we are this morning.
A considerable amount of evidence has been laid before that Committee, and it is interesting to see what bodies have appeared before it. Evidence has been submitted by representatives of the Ministry of Labour, and, judging from the replies that the Minister of Labour gave yesterday, more evidence is to be submitted by his Department. He also indicated that additional evidence may be submitted by the Trades Union Congress on the 1st December. Apparently, from the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman yesterday, this Committee is expected to report at some time towards the end of the year. The Minister indicated that additional evidence was to be given on the 17th of this month and on 1st December, and, after 1st December, 2037 the Committee will begin to frame its report, so that we may expect the report of the Committee within a comparatively short time. But we are dealing with the Minster of Labour—[An HON. MEMBER: "In the spring"]—we have had "in the spring" before, and I do not forget that the same right hon. Gentleman, the Minister of Labour, stood at that Box on 22nd July and assured the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) that the report of this Committee would be received at an early date. That was on 22nd July, and now we are in November. However, he seemed to be specific yesterday, and he assured us that after 1st December the Committee would be in a position to begin to frame their report, so we may expect the report some time about the beginning of the year. That means that we may give this Bill a Second Reading to-day, and be assured that before it enters the Committee stage we shall have the whole of the evidence given to the Committee, and the report of the Committee as well, as a guide.
I have said we have had evidence from the Ministry of Labour. We have had evidence from the Trades Union Congress. We have had evidence from a very eminent K.C., Mr. Comyns Carr, who suggested that there should be a contributory system. The Committee had the evidence of this very important witness. It is in print, and can be read by hon. Members. We have also had evidence from the Co—operative movement, from the Meat Traders' Association, from the Theatrical Managers' Association and from the National Association of Canal Carriers. I will let the Parliamentary Secretary have the evidence of the Canal Carriers if he wishes to have an argument in favour of a non-compulsory service. The branch managers of the Ministry of Labour have submitted evidence to the Committee. The Ministry have replied to the branch managers. The National Federation of Sub-Postmasters, the Committee on Wage-earning Children, the National Council of Girls' Clubs, the Joint Industrial Committee for Local Authorities' Non-Trading Services and others have submitted evidence to the Committee, and the evidence is available for hon. Members to examine and to use on the Committee stage of this Bill.
Practically all the evidence that has been submitted to the Committee up to 2038 now has been in favour of compulsory holidays with pay. There is one important exception, and perhaps I had better deal with it now. Although the evidence is not yet fully in print, like that of other bodies to which I have referred, I daresay the Parliamentary Secretary will remind hon. Members on this side, and myself as a mining representative, that the Mining Association of Great Britain has also submitted evidence. The whole of its evidence is not yet in print, but we have seen reports in the newspapers as to the line it has taken. The Mining Association of Great Britain, however, does not speak for the miners of Great Britain, but for the colliery owners. I would remind hon. Members that, while the Mining Association is against compulsion, it has expressed the sympathy of every district in the Federation—that is to say, every coalmining district in this country—with the principle of holidays with pay. Only so far as members of the Association are concerned, they do not want compulsion. They want to be allowed to negotiate with the miners' organisations in the various districts. Speaking as a miners' representative, I want to say that, so far as the miners are concerned, we want the compulsory form of this Bill. We have no objection to meeting the coalowners in conference to discuss the question of when it is most convenient for the industry to have these holidays, whether the two weeks are to be taken consecutively or at different times. These are details to be discussed between the representatives of the owners and the workers, after the principle has been laid clown that we must have holidays with pay.
I want to deal very briefly with the objections we have to a voluntary system. The first is that it allows bad employers to refuse to grant holidays with pay. It gives these bad employers an unfair advantage over those who have adopted the system. There are a number of good employers in a particular industry. They treat their workers decently: they have already given their employés holidays with pay. These are bound to find themselves at a disadvantage in competition with those who have not made this sacrifice, and, sooner or later, they may have to come to their employés and tell them they cannot continue the system of holidays with pay because of the unfair 2039 competition. We want to root out the bad employers. This House does not say on the question of workmen's compensation, that it shall not apply to a certain number of employers in a particular industry. Employers in the industries that come under either the employer' liability or compensation laws have to adapt themselves to the Acts under which they operate. They have to pay compensation, whether they are good or bad employers, and we want the same system adopted with regard to holidays with pay.
Another objection to a voluntary arrangement is that it ensures that many millions of manual workers will not get such holidays in the present generation; and, in passing, let me draw attention to the fact that those who enjoy holidays with pay at the moment are those who least need them. The managerial staffs and the technicians, or the non-manual grades, in our great industries are those who receive holidays with pay, and, so far as manual workers are concerned, I do not believe I am going too far when I say that, even after the agreements that have been made, I doubt whether there are 2,000,000 in this country enjoying holidays with pay. When are the others going to have theirs? Let me quote a passage from that very interesting examination that went on before the Committee. The representative of the Ministry of Labour was asked:With all our good organisation, have you made any calculation in your experience as conciliation officer as to how long it is going to take us, without legislation, to get it in this country?And here is the reply that was given:Mr. Leggett: I am not very good at arithmetic of that kind.Mr. Hallsworth: I am afraid your arithmetic is different from ours; that is the trouble.As the representative of the Ministry of Labour Mr. Leggatt was not prepared to say when we were going to get holidays with pay without legislation. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will be more specific than was the representative of the Ministry of Labour with regard to the time that will pass before voluntary agreements between employers and employed can give us what we want.
There is another objection. It leaves the door open to employers at any time, 2040 and especially during a period of trade depression, to cancel the engagements upon which they have entered. You may have an agreement between employers and employed in an industry for holidays with pay, but if the employers find themselves in the circumstances with which they were faced in 1930 and 1931 there is nothing to prevent their cancelling the arrangement for holidays with pay; all that they have to plead is that they cannot go on with the arrangement. They would say that it is not so much a necessity as a luxury to give the workers holidays with pay. My last objection to the voluntary system is this: It leaves industry in a state of confusion and uncertainty, and hesitation on the part of Parliament will quicken a demand for industrial action, with consequent irritation and strife. I am certain that this House does not want any more irritation or strife in industry, if it can be avoided. I believe that it can be avoided and the most effective way of avoiding it is to give a Second Reading to this Bill, to send it to a Standing Committee with an Instruction that the compulsory principle must remain. We believe that this step must be made a permanent step, that holidays with pay must be put on a permanent footing.
§ 12.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Selley
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That", to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:this House, while welcoming the development of the practice of granting holidays with pay by voluntary agreement, considers that further information is required on the whole problem and cannot assent to the Second Reading of a Bill while a departmental committee is investigating the relevant facts and has not yet reported.I would not like hon. Members opposite to regard me as one who is unacquainted with the difficulties on their side. I was an apprentice in the building industry 50 years ago, and I was not allowed to take the advantage even of a Bank holiday. I was told in my early youth that that holiday was intended for bank clerks. I do not think that the rates of wages then would have had any material effect on the industry, because I recollect that my wages were something like 5s. a week. The hours of labour then were 56½ a week, and during the dark periods of the year men worked from light to dark. I am sure, therefore, that hon. Members opposite will realise that I speak not only 2041 with sympathy but with a full knowledge of the facts with which they are always battling. When I came to London some 45 years ago I came as a trade unionist 'with a trade union ticket. So I think I know all about the matter.
I heard an hon. Member opposite object to what he called the "slipshod" remarks of the hon. Member for Barrow (Sir J. Walker—Smith). I am afraid I shall have to repeat them. I see no analogy between the hon. Member's remarks on the difficulty of the trade in the matter of holidays with pay, and the great idea—not the concession—the great idea of equity which is involved in the endeavour to meet "wet time." They are two completely different things and will have to be met in two completely different ways. I agree with that statement of the hon. Member for Barrow as representing the true position of the building industry. I have been on Standing Committees, and to say that we can hammer out in a Standing Committee, for the whole of a great industry of this sort, some method whereby we can grant holidays with pay, is ridiculous. Let me give some illustrations. What is to be done with the builder who gets into the Bankruptcy Court? What are we going to do in the case of the operative who has worked 10 months for a firm which put up its shutters and goes bankrupt? How are we to get that man his holiday with pay? There are hundreds and thousands of men in the trade who are employed on a job, and, as the hon. Member for Barrow said, then go to another employer.
I am going to make a practical suggestion. I think that the building trade should be one of the easiest in which to provide holidays with pay, but it can never be done by putting penalties into a Bill such as this, and leaving it to the employer to work out whether or not a man has spent 12 months in his employment. It will have to he done on a pool system, under which every employer in the country has to make some contribution, varying district by district and taking into account the rates of wages. It will have to be a system whereby every man who has completed 52 weeks employment will be able to have his payment, but not necessarily drawn from two or three employers only, but from some organisation which will have to be set up under the pool. If it is contended that that is a Committee point all I know 2042 is that Members serving on that Committee will be sitting here from now to next January twelvemonths. A scheme like that can never be drawn up except in the trade itself.
What I say of the building industry is true of many other industries, but I am not going to stress the point. The hon. Member who moved the Second Reading of the Bill said that the workers' hopes hitherto had been dashed. It would be cheap on my part to say that they were certainly dashed in 1929. I would not use that argument. We have moved on somewhat since 1929 and are now dealing with 1937, and it is obvious, from what has transpired in this House and what is happening outside, that there is a great body of opinion more than anxious to see something done on this very pressing question. We are going through a time of necessity and we are inviting young men to join the Territorial Army. Are we to consider the fortnight in camp as a holiday? I certainly hope not. I would like to see the difference between full wages and the pay given to a volunteer made up, and I think that it could be made up not as a condition of this Bill, but from a pool in which you could work in the holiday system and a provision to enable a man to obtain his physical fitness by serving his country.
Most emphatically this Bill is a bad Bill, because it leaves out the very people whom most of us are anxious to see get a holiday and the Bill could never adequately be amended in Committee. No Committee, however anxious, could put this Bill into working order. There are the differences in weekly wages. In the building trade there are a number of what you call the black-coated workers and technicians, all of whom receive holidays with pay. I do not know whether hon. Members realise that the whole of the turnover of the building industry something like 45 per cent. goes in actual wages and about 55 per cent. in the purchase of materials. Forty-five per cent. is a very heavy wage bill. It may be possible to point to the distributing trades and to Boots Cash Chemists, Marks and Spencer. and Woolworths. I daresay that some of these firms can very easily face up to holidays with pay, but the percentage cost of their labour compared with their turnover, is probably not more than 15 per cent.—I do not know. 2043 It must be borne in mind that there must be a very great difference in the responsibility betwen one firm and another.
There is another point worth recording. The hon. Member says, "I do not like compulsion, but I want these other people who have made arrangements to be pinned down." In other words, he says that they may run away from their bargain. If we consider a Bill of this sort with all these arrangements entered into, as is the case in every Bill which is passed in this House, it will certainly have some premanency, and there will be no opportunity to vary the conditions and make them better than those which the Bill provides. I do not want to stress that point, but I should have thought that this was not a Committee point, but one that could probably be arranged between the trades themselves under some agreement, and that they could say quite openly, before the Bill received the sanction of the House, that they would agree that their arrangement should stand whatever shape the Bill might eventually take.
The hon. Member has referred to the international situation and has given us a picture of the wonderful countries which are able to give this great benefit. I have had the good fortune to travel through most of them, and I would prefer to work in this country without holidays than to have holidays with the pay which is received in those particular countries. I agree entirely that holidays would be a benefit to health and would make for physical fitness and contentment in industry. I would go a step further. If legislation eventually takes place, as I believe it will, though not in this Bill, it may be a means by which we can rectify the difference between employment and unemployment. Do not let us disguise the fact that, although this Bill is an attempt to improve conditions, it must also have an effect upon employment. You could not take the whole of the operatives of this country away from their occupation for a fortnight and get the same output. The difference between office staffs and the workers in industry is that they receive holidays with pay, but it must be remembered that there is no additional staff to do their work when they are absent. In many offices the staff is so arranged that the work is left over until after the holidays or divided between those who are not on holidays. 2044 That is not the case in productive industry. If you take the bricklayer, the carpenter or the plumber away from his job for a fortnight his pal who is left behind does not do enough; and I do not blame him.
I see that the great benefits of this Bill, if it goes through, are to accrue to Scotland, and, therefore, I am not surprised to find a Scotsman putting in a word for himself. He was singing the praises of that most glorious country of which no one is more fond than I am, but what he was really after was to try to advertise the fact that the workers should, if they got this benefit "come and drop some of it on our doorstep, as we can do with it." I honestly believe that this is a question to which we have to face up, but it is not one in regard to which we can make a perfect Bill in view of the compulsion contained in the Bill. The issue is too large. It must not be forgotten that it is imposing a burden on other people, and is not asking anything of the Government. Much has been said about the bad employer, and I am going to say a word or two about the employer who might be as generous at heart as the best employer in the country. I think that the Mover of the Motion said that in one country businesses employing less than five persons were exempt. Let us go up and down the country here. What do we find? We find small, one-man businesses, with the employer working himself and employing one or two men, and perhaps having all the difficulty in the world to keep his end up. Hon. Members may say that he would be better out of the way, but if we took all of that class out of the way, it would mean taking out every local shopkeeper and every one of those businesses which go to make up the employment of probably nearly one-third of the employed persons in this country. I have sympathy with these people. would not call them bad employers, but employers struggling Ender adversity, and compulsorily to put a burden upon them right away without so much as "by your leave," and probably closing down their business, might have a repercussion which might be very injurious to the working classes of this country and outweigh any benefits that could be conferred by this Bill.
We must bear in mind that holidays with pay is a thing which has seriously 2045 to be considered, not in a private Member's Bill, but by the Government. It must be considered in groups and blocks.
It has been said that the numbers who would come under the benefits of a voluntary system would be negligible, but when we discussed this question on the Bill last year 3,500,000 were provided for in that way, and I understand that another 1,000,000 has been added this year. I agree with the seconder of the Bill that we do not want this thing to go on until those who are now in their youth and prime will be grey headed before the Act comes to the Statute Book. Let us face the facts and see that proper investigations are made which will not injure our export trade or the little man who is struggling to make a living. Let us see whether anything can be done to bring about that which we all desire, a real workable Measure, and if not we may have to go to the Exchequer and ask them to help us. To pass a Bill of this sort and put penalties on every employer without having provided a reasoned scheme which will be workable, is not the end to be desired. For these and many other reasons I move the Amendment.
§ 12.34 p.m.
§ Sir Jonah Walker-Smith
I beg to second the Amendment.
This Bill in its terms is practically the same as the one which was before the House last year. On that occasion I traversed the Bill, but I did not know that I had lapsed into the use of the term "slip-shod" as applied to the Bill. I had intended to say that the text of the Bill was lacking in clarity, and that it was in many respects contradictory in principle. Even so, I do not object to the term referred to, because I do think that this is a very unsatisfactory Bill. I prefaced the remarks I had tin make by indicating that I was entirely in favour of the principles of holidays with pay. As a result of a further 12 months' intimate experience of industrial relationship and industrial affairs generally, I should like to repeat that statement with greater emphasis.
The terms of the Amendment are merely to call attention to the desirability of awaiting the report of the Departmental Committee. That Committee, composed of those who may be expected to view this subject from different angles, 2046 has received evidence from different interests and from those who have no particular industrial interest, but approach the matter from the standpoint of social reform. The Committee have now practically finished hearing evidence, and having regard to the fact that it has been under the chairmanship of Lord Amulree, who has had great experience in matters of this kind, I shall be surprised if the report is not available by the Spring of next year. It is not right to say that this House can appropriately consider a subject of this kind until the deliberations of that Committee are made known. One could submit to the House or to a Committee a vast undigested mass of evidence, but that would be insufficient and embarrassing. What is desired are the considered views of an impartial body like the Departmental Committee, giving the result of their impressions and their findings on the evidence placed before them. When that has been done I agree with the mover of the Amendment that a Bill dealing with an important matter of this kind should be a Government Bill, and not a Private Member's Bill. No matter from what source the Bill may emanate, it will need sympathetic and careful consideration in order to see that its conditions are such that they will confer maximum benefits and inflict the least possible injury upon existing industrial institutions.
I propose merely to comment upon certain points that have been raised by the mover and seconder of the Bill. The first reference was in regard to the fact that this country appears to lag behind other countries in the matter of holidays with pay. Instances were given of what is done by legislation and compulsion in Belgium, France, Germany and Italy. I do not think it is wise or helpful to extract from industrial arrangements in those countries one small portion, and detach it from the whole. We must take into consideration all the other conditions relating to industry in those countries. It is true that much more is done in those countries by legislation or by governmental decree or regulations, with but scant concern for those principles which we pursue in our industrial relationships. I do not think that the seeds of compulsion will do very well in the soil of this country, because our industrial relations are really based upon freedom and complete equality of 2047 negotiations between employers and operatives, conducted in a spirit of enlightened democracy. It is a surprise to me that hon. Members above the Gangway should be so enamoured of compulsion and all that typifies Germany and Italy—compulsory military service, compulsory extinction of the real powers of trade unionism—[Interruption]—at any rate, that was the model and example which hon. Members seemed to suggest that we ought to follow.
It is also suggested that under our system of collective agreement and voluntary arrangements there would be a very large number of people who would be unprovided for in regard to holidays with pay. There is no doubt that in regard to many industries the provision would under this system be considerably and regrettably belated, but it is wrong to say that real and substantial progress is not being made in the matter of holidays with pay under our present voluntary system of collective bargaining. In the last 12 months it has been arranged in the engineering industry, not by compulsion, and it took but a very short time. It was quickly and amicably arranged as an element of wages in the system of collective bargaining. There can be but little doubt that it will be arranged equally amicably in the shipbuilding industry early next year, and one must be short of imagination not to see that this spirit will prevail in all subsequent negotiations in other great and well organised industries of the country.
The hon. Member read extracts from the speech I made last year on the corresponding Bill, particularly the comments I made in regard to the building industry. He suggested that it was somewhat illogical to take the view that representatives of organised employers and to the provision of payment for time lost through wet or inclement weather under their system of voluntary agreement and collective bargaining. They can solve, and will continue to solve, all these organised operatives in the building trade could tackle more difficult questions than this, namely, the question of payment for time lost through inclement weather, and that they should find a difficulty in swallowing this Bill. That is not illogical in the least. The building industry have made this arrangement in regard 2048 difficulties one by one under their existing system. But it is a totally different thing if you are going to throw the spanner of discord into this delicate machinery by imposing the principle of compulsion upon them. Therein is the difficulty, and a very considerable difficulty I think it will prove to be.
The reason it is so easy to deal with these matters in the building industry is because operatives and employers have one common policy, which is to co-operate to make the building industry as prosperous as it can be, knowing and believing that it is only out of a prosperous industry that you can get good wages and conditions of labour. The employers on their part are quite prepared that the highest wages, shortest hours and best conditions of labour shall be observed which a prosperous industry can yield. It is for that reason that I am anxious we should not destroy this spirit of voluntary co-operation and try to drive the wedge of compulsion into it, which would be extremely unfortunate in the future. It is true that the more backward and less organised industries will not, under existing arrangements, have the benefit of holidays with pay as quickly as we should like. There is bound to be a gap. There are always relatively backward industries just as there are relatively backward countries. Realising that different countries have different standards of life one would never dream of trying to impose some sort of international law upon all of them which would bring them to one level standard of life, one level of holidays with pay and one level of hours and conditions.
That is impossible. It would mean a considerable levelling down of some countries, unfortunately a considerable levelling down of our own, which is unthinkable, and a levelling up of the remainder. Similarly in regard to the industries of this country. Some are particularly backward and have been the subject of the regrettable necessity of trades boards, and I have no doubt that these backward tendencies in these particular industries will prevent them from getting holidays with pay as quickly as other industries which are better organised. The principle should be, not to keep these backward industries ever and always backward but to get them to organise themselves, employers and employés, to emulate the example of the 2049 better organised industries, and in the meantime to get the better organised industries better and better organised so as to be an example to all the others.
The Mover of the Bill hoped that I would say a word in regard to the question of costs. I have not taken the trouble to read what I said on the previous occasion on the question of costs, but they are precisely my views to-day. I do not think the question of costs can be regarded by anyone as being a matter of particular difficulty in regard to a subject of this kind. They can be dealt with, and should be dealt with, always as an element in wages. It is true that the question of costs has to be considered in the determination of wages. It is most regrettable it should be so, but there are expert industries and unsheltered industries which have to consider costs because they have to compete in the world markets. It may be that the figures can be reduced to a trivial minimum representing so many coppers per ton of coal. I know that each one of these things is small in itself, comparatively small in costs, but when you total them up they come to £13 or £14 per head per annum, which is twice the cost of our social services, and nearly ten times the cost of similar services in other countries with which our export industries have to compete. I have never raised the question of costs as a factor of considerable moment in regard to this subject.
The question we have to consider is quite clear. Shall it be compulsion? Shall we make this a matter of compulsion upon industries whether they want it or not? Shall we compel them to adopt this particular thing in this particular way at this particular time regardless of all circumstances? Shall it be a matter of compulsion or shall we promote the continued growth and development of the voluntary organisation which has resulted in such enormous advantage to the workers throughout the country? That is the question to be considered. It does not impress me when it is suggested that the law can be made flexible, that permissive powers can be given. What does that mean? After an Act giving compulsory powers has beer passed, there is to be what is termed freedom of negotiation. I never appreciated the freedom of negotiation with my headmaster when I saw that he had a cane up his back. I knew very well what 2050 the result would be, and that knowledge did not make the negotiations particularly pleasant for me. Here it is proposed that the cane should be held up the back ready to be brought out at any moment. There is to be the principle of compulsion and every industry is to be compelled to adopt this particular method.
§ Mr. George Griffiths
Is there not compulsion in the matter of the hon. Member's holidays? He is compelled to have 23 weeks' holiday from this House, and he has no choice in the matter.
§ Sir J. Walker-Smith
I am also compelled to have £600 a year instead of £400, although I do not desire it. But those are totally different questions from the one we are discussing.
§ Sir J. Walker-Smith
The suggestion that there would be freedom of negotiation is purely illusory, and, in my opinion, it is in this that there lies the danger and difficulty of a Bill of this nature. I will state the difficulty simply and succinctly. According to the present arrangement, there are agreements between the operatives and the employers. Behind those agreements there is no legal sanction and no redress in the Courts. That is not a bad thing, but an extremely good thing. The parties meet knowing full well that there is no third party to whom they can appeal, that there is no appeal to the political arena, to the Courts or to an arbitrator. They know very well that they must settle the matters themselves, and they meet with the hope, the expectation and the intention of settling them. They meet together on terms of perfect equality. [HON. MEMBERS: "No"!] I demur, because I have myself frequently engaged in negotiations concerning the wages, hours and conditions of labour affecting 1,000,000 workers in this country. I say that we meet on terms of absolute and perfect equality. We solve every difficulty in that spirit of freedom and equality, and by voluntary means. Every step that we take, we consolidate, and it is the jumping off place for the further step that we will take.
If there were compulsion, if there were legal powers behind the negotiations, if there were some other body to which the parties could appeal, we should never 2051 be able to solve these problems as satisfactorily, as effectively and as completely to our mutual satisfaction as we do at the present time. From the moment the negotiations began, each party would not be considering how it could make terms with friends on the other side of the table, but how it could manoeuvre itself into a satisfactory position for the appeal to the third party. The whole spirit of negotiation would then be very badly endangered. I am extremely anxious that that should not happen, and that we should not depart, or have any reason for departing, from the present system, which is developing in the most admirable manner.
The adoption of compulsion and legislation as against the voluntary system could result in two alternatives only. The first alternative would be that the matters would be carried into the political arena. I know that some would not mind, for political purposes, making questions of this kind matters of political prejudice. I would deprecate that. I am in favour of keeping industrial matters out of politics, but I know that others have different views. The first alternative, I say, would be to get questions of wages and conditions of labour inextricably mixed up in politics. In the cotton industry, for instance, there has already been far too much political intervention; the least intervention gives us the greatest satisfaction.
The other alternative would be that hours and conditions of labour would be determined by a huge bureaucracy, and the power, influence and prestige of the trade unions would go. If we had a bureaucracy determining all these matters, the result would be that they would be in a state of continual upset and turmoil. I cannot conceive that anyone is particularly anxious that all these things should be dealt with by some vast bureaucracy. The hon. Member who seconded the Motion regretted that there were special privileges for the black-coated workers. He will appreciate that the more civil servants there are, the greater are the oncosts of industry. Observe how the bureaucracy grows. In 1914, there were 57,000 civil servants; in 1928, 14 years later, the number was double, at 116,000; and in 1937, there were 356,000.
§ Sir J. Walker-Smith
The hon. Member does not mind this burden of oncosts on the working people of this country. In that case his views and mine do not coincide.
§ Mr. Cassells
In view of the hon. Member's submission that the question of costs is irrelevant, will he tell the House what prejudice would be suffered by any employer if this Bill were passed?
§ Sir J. Walker-Smith
I did not say that it was entirely irrelevant, but that it was not the dominant factor in the situation.
§ Sir J. Walker-Smith
I said it would not be regarded as of special significance, but, of course, it must be considered. All the oncosts on industry must be considered if one is to get a prosperous industry. I have said many times, here and elsewhere, that I am entirely in favour of the principle of holidays with pay, but I am even more in favour of maintaining the principle of negotiations and voluntary agreement between trade unions and organised employers. I think it is very much better to leave these industries to evolve their own solution, just as was done, so quickly, in the case of the engineering industry, and as could be done equally quickly and successfully in shipbuilding and other industries, until it permeated the whole of industry. The question of holidays with pay is simply an element of the question of wages. For many years we have been fostering the principle of dealing with all matters of wages by negotiation and collective agreement. We are satisfied that this is being done reasonably well with regard to 52 weeks in the year, and yet hon. Members propose a measure of compulsion in regard to one week or two weeks of wages because that period of one or two weeks has particular reference to holidays. I think that is very unwise, and I think it would endanger industrial relations. From long and intimate experience of industry, I am satisfied that to endanger industrial relations in that way would be very bad for industry, for the trade union movement, and for the individual workers.
§ 1.6 p.m.
§ Mrs. Hardie
I am very glad to have the opportunity of supporting the Second 2053 Reading of this Bill because it seeks to give a measure of social justice which all workers are entitled to claim. I feel that I would not be doing my duty to the people who have sent me here, if I did not speak in support of this Measure. Already the ground has been pretty well covered as far as the workers are concerned in relation to this proposal. We learn that out of a total of something like 11,000,000 manual workers less than 2,000,000 get holidays with pay. There is one interesting point which I discovered in examining these figures. When I started out to do propaganda work we used to quote a figure of something like 12,000,000 manual workers. It seems strange to me that, although the population has increased, the number of manual workers has apparently gone down to 11,000,000. It shows the enormous increase in the productive power of the individual worker.
Another point emerges from this discussion. If we examine the case of the people who do not get holidays with pay, we find that they are the productive workers—those who really produce the wealth of the nation. In that connection the Mover of the Amendment made a very interesting point. He said that blackcoated workers could do one another's jobs so that there was no actual loss to the community whether they worked or not. Even the employer himself can go away for a holiday, as probably the hon. Member himself knows, and nothing very much happens in consequence. There is always somebody there, generally somebody belonging to our class, to see that the workers go on producing wealth while the employer is on holiday. That is the point which has been put from this side of the House over and over again—the importance of the productive worker. I have noticed since coming into the House that hon. Members opposite often tell us how much they have done for the workers. They tell us that they have given the workers social services and all sorts of good things. I would like them to take notice of the fact that it is the workers who have given them all the good things that they enjoy. The workers not only produce their own wages. They produce our wages, and all the profits and rents and interest taken by members of other classes.
2054 To keep to the point of holidays with pay, I suggest to the House that it is a very hard thing that the real productive workers should be the one section who do not enjoy that right. It is not recognised as a right that the bricklayer, the engineer, the agricultural worker or anybody who is actually producing wealth should be entitled to holidays with pay. The real reason, of course, is that when they stop working there is a reduction in wealth-producing power. This question affects not only miners, engineers and shipbuilders, but what gives me a special interest in supporting the Second Reading of the Bill, is that it also affects a large number of women workers. There are shop assistants, clerks and others who get holidays with pay, but in the case of women also we find that many productive workers are still denied that right. Here as elsewhere we are up against the point that the real productive worker is the worst treated under our present system. As regards dressmakers, tailoresses, factory workers and others, I know that while some get holidays with pay, large numbers do not. I have always wanted to be a productive worker myself, but I have never been one. I spent some 14 years in industry and all I can say at the end of it is that I only increased somebody else's bank balance. I have never been able to see why the productive workers should be treated worse than any other class. To-day we can see that they are carrying a heavier load than ever. If there are only 11,000,000 manual workers to produce the wealth and if the population has increased they have a correspondingly larger number of people to carry on their backs. We are now asking for them a very small concession of social reform which they are entitled to claim.
There is also the question of health. I think hon. Members opposite who have more experience of holidays than I have will agree that they are essential to health. The people for whom we are asking holidays often live in industrial centres. I come from Glasgow and I can assure hon. Members that those who live in the Glasgow working-class areas need holidays very badly. We know that, from one year to another, many of these people skimp, and save in order to be able to get a fortnight at the coast. This consideration particularly concerns the 2055 women and children. The woman who has to live in a room and kitchen or even in a two-room and kitchen house, if she is aristocratic enough to be able to afford one—and that is about the upper limit in housing for the working-classes in Scotland—has a very hard life in very sordid surroundings. This has a tremendous effect on the health of the people in the big cities.
I listened recently to a very interesting speech by the hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone). She made an eloquent appeal to the House to protect women and children who were being shot down in Spain. I felt proud of her and I shared her horror and indignation at the fact that a British Government could countenance such a thing or allow it to proceed without interference. I am not, however, as surprised as the hon. Lady was, because I come from an industrial district and I know that, for generations, Governments of this country have stood aside and have seen British women and children killed off by bad housing conditions, by poverty, and by lack of holidays and of all the other things which are necessary to keep people in proper health. We know that the death rate in industrial districts is very high, and I am ashamed to say that in the country from which I come the death rate among children, and, indeed, among adults, too, is higher than it is in England and Wales. Why should that be so? Surely it is not that the Scottish race is not as healthy as the English or Welsh. It is, as I say, because of bad housing conditions, poverty and lack of holidays and fresh air.
The Mover of the Amendment has the good fortune to come from the Highlands. I happen to be two generations away from the soil, and I know there are many people in Glasgow who have never seen the Highlands, and who do not know anything about the beautiful country which belongs to them. When it comes to war, of course, they will be expected to turn out and fight for the country they have never seen. Some years ago the Glasgow council as a result of an agitation by the Labour members, decided to take some Glasgow mothers for a sail down the Clyde. It was discovered that there were mothers and grandmothers who had never been out of Glasgow all their 2056 lives and had never even had a sail down the Clyde, because they had not been able to afford it. We are asking the House to see that the husbands of women such as these should get holidays with pay, and so be able to take their wives and children for a much needed change every year. Even if we do give these people holidays with pay, many of them will not be able to have a real holiday, because they will not be able to go away. One hon. Member spoke against the compulsory element in this Bill, but I will point out that these people are not asked whether they will have a holiday or not. The works close down, and they are thrown out on to the street, and whether they have the money to go for a holiday or not, they are compelled to take that holiday, and they do riot get any wages for it.
I do not want to go into all the different points that arise, because there are many other hon. Members to follow who have had more experience than I have, but I want to say a word or two in connection with the arguments used against the Bill. I see, in looking at the Amendment on the Paper, that there is the usual excuse that we should do something in the matter, but not just now, not until the Departmental Committee makes a report. I have some criticism to make of the constitution of these committees. I had the pleasure once of sitting on a Royal Commission which was dealing with another question, and I know something about the composition of that Commission. It happened to be a Licensing Commission, and when we were expected to draft our report, the usual thing happened. We had a majority and a minority report. You could not expect the people to agree, because all of them were looking more or less after their own particular interests. There are no neutral-minded people on almost any subject.
I was rather surprised to find that the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment are in the building trade, whereas I had rather expected the opposition to come from people engaged in competitive trades who were up against foreign competition. The Mover of the Amendment made some very good suggestions, and it seemed to me that if we pass this Bill and make it compulsory for every employer to give holidays with pay, the employers of whom he spoke will soon draft a scheme for their own trade to get over the difficulties. 2057 It was suggested that in the building trade there are some small traders who might have a very hard time if the Bill were passed, but there might be some special arrangement come to whereby they could give holidays with pay, and if there was any difficulty about that, I suggest to the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment that they could easily draft a scheme which would make the necessary adjustments for their trade. I have no doubt of the ability of the Mover of the Amendment, who happens to have been a landlord of mine. He is a fairly decent landlord, and, as far as I know, he tries to treat his workers fairly well. I suggest that he, along with the other members in the building trade, could quite well draft a scheme so that nobody would suffer any great hardship and the men would be able to get holidays with pay.
There was one thing that I could not quite understand in the speech of the Mover of the Amendment. Perhaps my arithmetic was wrong. I did not get much education, but most people in Scotland have learned to count. The hon. Member suggested that 45 per cent. of the costs in the building trade were due to wages and 55 per cent. to building materials, and that made me wonder where the profits came in. There is another rather curious thing that I have discovered, and that is the great concern of employers in this House for the trade unions. I was a trade union official once, and I found that it was the rottenest job I had ever struck. I do not mean to say that the union members were bad— far from it. It was the employers whom I was up against. In my experience trade unionism was the one thing the employers wanted to down. There have been as many strikes over trade union recognition as over any other cause.
With reference to the question of compulsion, it is interesting to find this great desire for freedom on the part of the employers. One hon. Member used the illustration of a schoolmaster with a stick, but I would point out that when the workers negotiate with the employers, the latter know that they have a stick at their back, the stick of starvation, and that if the workers do not agree to their terms, they can use that stick against them. The Labour party was formed because trade unionists realised that industrial action was not enough; they needed also to have political action, and 2058 that is why the Labour party was formed and why it is supported by the trade unions throughout the country. Some speakers have argued that the workers could get holidays with pay without compulsion, but I made some inquiries on this question in the constituency which I have the honour to represent, and I remember the very long agitation over the railway shopmen to get holidays with pay. The funny thing was that the railway staff, the drivers and so on, had holidays with pay, but the men who made the engines, the real wealth producers, could not get that privilege. I understand that through negotiations they have now secured holidays with pay, but it took 25 years' agitation to secure that reform, and if the same thing is going to obtain in all the other trades, it will be a long time before they also get holidays with pay. Many countries on the Continent already have holidays with pay, and I suggest that such a fine country as Great Britain, with such considerate people governing us, who do not cut off our heads, might grant its workers holidays with pay.
I am going to finish by appealing, if possible, to the social conscience of the people on the other side of the House. I must say that I do not relish very much appealing to people on the other side. I often try to tell the workers that, instead of sending us here to plead with the other side to give them a little of what is their own, we should send sufficient Members here on this side so that we can get the Measures we desire. I suggest that hon. Members opposite would feel a little more comfortable when going on their own holidays if they knew that the people who made those holidays possible were having holidays too. I have never had very much in life, and yet sometimes I am ashamed when I look at some of the people in the Glasgow area who never get holidays or decent clothes and live in rotten houses.
I do not know how hon. Members opposite, who have three months' holiday with pay, many of them with incomes of their own and can go on holidays with their wives and children, feel when they know that masses of the people are suffering because they cannot have a holiday. I would like us to be proud of our country. We on this side are the only real patriots because we want to be proud of our country. The party opposite is like the housewife who polishes up the parlour and 2059 leaves the kitchen alone. That is what they do. They look after their wives and children, but they do not care for the workers who are carrying out the necessary work of the country. I appeal to the House to pass the Second Reading and to allow the Bill to go to Committee. I appeal to hon. Members not to obstruct it as they did last time, but to see that it passes so that they will have done something to justify their existence.
§ 1.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Louis Smith
I think I am correct in saying that the hon. Lady who has just sat down has made her first speech in this House. In that case, I would wish to congratulate her on a most thoughtful, appealing and powerful speech, a speech tinged with humour and of the kind which, I feel sure, hon. Members will wish to hear again. I am only wondering whether, when I listened to the words of the hon. Lady, I ought not to congratulate the Opposition in that they have in her one who in a motherly way may assist them greatly to remove some of the little rifts in the Opposition ranks. I do sincerely congratulate her, and I am sure we shall all wish to hear her again.
I intervene in this Debate mainly because I was one of those who thought, when sitting in Committee last Session, that this important question could not be handled correctly and successfully by a Private Member's Bill. I do not give way to the hon. Member who has brought forward this Bill to-day in the wish to see manual workers in the country enjoy at least a week's holiday with pay. When I say that I am connected with one chemical industry which for the last eight years has granted the workers a week's holiday with full pay, it will be realised that I am not unsympathetic to this matter. I happen, also, to have been one of those connected with the engineering industry who took action this summer, and in the new wages agreement included a week's holiday with pay. As I pointed out in Committee in the earlier part of this year, it will be very difficult to administer this Private Member's Bill.
May I point out some of the great difficulties which the Engineering Federation, in negotiating with the trade union representatives, found in granting a week's 2060 holiday with pay. They have decided in that industry to credit an ex gratia allowance in respect of holidays for each full week's work a sum representing one-fiftieth of the appropriate day time rate plus time-worker's national bonus for the time being. These credits are to be accumulated in a special fund maintained by each firm and are to be payable to each employé at the recognised summer holiday period, or such other time as may be mutually agreed. This arrangement was made by the engineering employers with the employés because they wished to get over the difficulty, which is apparent in this Bill, that unless anyone was employed by the same employer and for a given period he would not participate in the holiday with pay. It allows everyone to get a fair share. In going into the details a great many other points arose. It was necessary that the special fund to which the credits were paid should be perfectly safe. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment mentioned that in the building trade there might be bankruptcies. In the engineering trade, if there were a bankruptcy, an employé who had been credited with certain money week by week might not get that money, and it was, therefore, necessary to have this special fund safeguarded. It is accordingly paid week by week by each engineering firm to a special account at the bank, and it is kept separate from the funds of the company.
Another point which arose was the advisability of telling the employés periodically the amount of the accrued credits. It was felt desirable that the employé should know from quarter to quarter or month by month how much he had in that account. Another question was whether it was obligatory for a works to close for a week or whether employés should go on holiday in relays. The payments of credits to employés when leaving one works to go to another before the holiday period arrived was another knotty point. Queries might be raised on other points, such as the additional concessions already granted to those who are in the Territorials; and I may say that all the industries with which I am connected now make up the difference between the Army pay and the ordinary pay of those who are away on territorial duty. These are all questions which need special attention.
2061 The reason I have gone into this detail regarding the engineering trade arrangement is to prove, if I can, how impossible it would be to administer a Bill such as this Private Member's Bill. It would be quite unworkable, and until there have been negotiations in each trade to find out the best means of providing holidays with pay, I think it is impossible for the House to take action. Later, when more and more trades have arranged for holidays with pay for their employés, the remaining minority of people engaged in less well organised or un-organised trades may need to he taken care of by my friend the Minister of Labour; but having regard to the fact that a Committee set up by the Government is at present considering this very problem, it is unfortunate for the promoter of the Bill that he should be pressing it on the attention of the House before we have the report of that Committee. It seems to me that it would be wise on the part of the promoters of the Bill, after they have obtained what, no doubt, is exceedingly useful, a full day's Debate on holidays with pay, to withdraw the Bill until the Committee have reported. I take it that it has been a case of using this day for window dressing on the subject of holidays with pay, and no doubt the discussion will have an effect in the country which from my point of view will be quite useful.
I want to see all workers in this country given a week's holiday with pay, but I think the promoters of this Bill have not carefully worked out what its effect is likely to be on individuals. In the case of a large number of people employment fluctuates, and they are in the service of two or three employers in the course of a year. That position is not looked after in this Bill. Further, nothing in the Bill deals with the question whether each trade is to have a fixed holiday period during which the factories are closed down; if this Bill were to pass in its present form it would certainly come to that in time. Why should a factory close down? It may suit the cotton trade that factories should close down, but in many trades it would not be possible. I fear, also, that sooner or later trade unions will he insisting that all workers must have their holidays at the same time, which, of course, would cause a great deal of inconvenience.
2062 The difference between this Bill and the one which we considered earlier this year is in the length of the holiday. Why has the holiday been changed from eight working days to not less than two normal working weeks? Seeing that a Committee is now sitting, and that when we were in Committee on the previous Bill it was not possible to go forward with it, surely it would be wise for the supporters of this Measure to have allowed the period to remain eight consecutive days rather than extend it to two working weeks.
§ Mr. Watson
Has the hon. Member examined the evidence already submitted to the Committee? The bulk of it shows that where holidays with pay are already granted the holiday is longer than was suggested in the last Bill,
§ Mr. Smith
I am glad of that interruption, because I would remind the hon. Member that though there may be cases in which a holiday with pay exceeding eight days is given by certain industries or by odd firms, there is little doubt that out of the 11,000,000 workers in the country there are still only 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 who receive a holiday for eight working days. Therefore, as a well-wisher in this matter, I submit that it was a tactical error of the supporters of the Bill to alter the holiday from eight days to two working weeks. A good deal has been said about the progress made with voluntary arrangements between employers and employés, and from the Benches opposite it has been doubted whether we are making much progress. No fewer than 1,000,000 manual workers are under new agreements which give them at least eight days' holiday with pay. In Yorkshire there are the glass bottle workers, in South Wales the tin plate workers, in London the baking trade, in certain parts of the Eastern counties omnibus drivers and conductors, in the Midlands workers in the sawmilling industry, and there are others, apart from the very important agreement come to in the engineering trades under which approximately 500,000 workers obtain a holiday with full pay. Therefore, I claim that we are making great progress, and year by year we shall make a bigger hole in that 11,000,000.
I repeat that when we get nearer to the time when a large proportion of the 2063 workers have a week's holiday with full pay, I should withdraw my opposition to any Bill which the Minister of Labour might propose advocating that the small minority still without holidays should be taken care of in some similar way. It might be possible for the Minister to say to certain industries which have not granted holidays; "Here are several schemes, choose one of them. We believe that as the large majority of the people have received this holiday with full pay the concession should be made universal." In that way we could get over that element of compulsion which might upset a whole great industry, might produce chaos in some industries which were not ready for it. Let us get over the next year or two, and when the large majority of trades have arranged holidays with their employés we might deal in this House with the small minority who have not. I strongly dislike any statutory arrangements in industry. I believe the less we interfere or intervene in industrial affairs, the better for the trade of the country, but there are matters, as we saw in the Factories Bill—that wonderful Factories Bill which was dealt with last Session—
Mr. J. J. Davidson
Does the hon. Member's opposition to interference in industry extend to opposition to the sub-sidising of industries by the State?
§ Mr. Smith
I do not think that that interruption is relevant to what I was saying. but I would like to reply to the hon. Member and say that if any industry vital to the welfare of this country is in difficult straits and unable to stand on its own feet, it is the duty of this House to come to its assistance.
§ Mr. Smith
I support the Amendment mainly for the reason that in my opinion the House should wait until we receive the report from the Committee. It might be that the report will recommend practically all that the promoters of the Bill are asking for. Would it not be folly, especially in the case of a private Member's Bill, to give the Bill a Second Reading and waste time in Committee upstairs when we may receive from the committee of inquiry over which Lord Amulree is sitting, suggestions and recommendations that will meet the 2064 wishes of this House. It would be much wiser for the Opposition to withdraw the Bill at the present moment and let us wait for the Committee's report. The House can then judge on what I believe will be much better material, what action to take in this important matter. I, and both the industries with which I am personally connected, have already realised the importance of a week's holiday with pay, and have granted them to the employés. The House should not take action to-day on this Bill, but should wait for the report and leave it to the Government to act upon the recommendations. I believe we shall do more for the welfare of the workers of the country in that way than by allowing this Bill to receive a Second Reading to-day.
§ 1.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Cassells
I am glad of the opportunity to pay my tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Mr. M. MacMillan) for bringing forward this most important Bill at this moment. I associate myself also with the remarks made by the last speaker about the wonderful speech to which we listened from the hon. Lady the Member for Springburn (Mrs. Hardie). If there is any Member in this House who will be capable of exercising a dominating influence upon the Minister of Labour I believe it will be the hon. Lady herself. Sometimes we men know very little about home topics, but she has spoken this afternoon not only as a Member of this Opposition but as a woman of the world. She has explained the position from the womanly point of view and from a worldly point of view. It would be worth the while of the Minister of Labour to apply his rigid attention to the speech made by the hon. Lady, because I am satisfied that he would gain an abundance of worldly knowledge from the words which have fallen from her lips.
There seems, even at the present moment, to be a considerable doubt in the minds of the three speakers who have addressed us from the Government side as to the fundamental purpose of the Measure. Each speaker raised the question of whether there was to be compulsory closing down of factories. That question is irrelevant to the issue. If hon. Members had applied their attention carefully to the wording of the Measure they would have realised that no question 2065 is raised regarding compulsory closing down. Clause 1 (1) lays down in cumulo the number of days per annum which each employé shall receive as holiday. When we refer to Sub-section (2) we find:The holiday to which a person is entitled under the provisions of this Act shall either consist of one unbroken period or be divided into two periods each consisting of not less than one normal working week.The only possible and fair interpretation from this Sub-section is that it envisages the situation in which an employer of labour might require to come to some arrangement with his employés whereby the employés shall not all be on holiday at the same point of time.
What, after all, is the objection to this Measure? The Amendment raises two points: first, the development of the practice of granting holidays with pay by voluntary agreement, and, secondly, that further information is required upon the whole problem. It suggests that the Housecannot assent to the Second Reading of a Bib while a departmental committee is investigating the relevant facts and has not yet reported.It is another illustration of the experience through which we have gone in the past few months that whenever a point of material importance to the working people arises in this country, only one way seems to occur to supporters of the Government for meeting it, and that is with repeated delay. The hon. Member for Hallam (Mr. L. Smith) suggested that we should wait until we received the Committee's report. That was his first point, but he immediately departed from that to say that he was opposed to the element of compulsion. It is clear that he is not in favour of the application of sanctions, at any rate. He went on to suggest that the element of compulsion could be got over in the next year or two, so that taking his two statements as a whole we may conclude that he is not so much concerned with the report of the Departmental Committee as with giving a reasonable opportunity to employers of labour to get together and make suitable arrangements to meet the emergencies of the situation.
May I put the simple point to him which was put most succinctly by the hon. Lady the Member for Springburn? She asked why hon. Members did not 2066 agree to the passage of the Measure at the present moment so that it might lend an impulse to backward employers of labour and compel them immediately to go forward and come to some suitable arrangement.
§ Mr. L. Smith
I thank the hon. Member for giving way to me. He was referring to the point I made about compulsion; I would like to ask him whether there is any proposal or suggestion in the Bill for getting over all the difficulties in each individual trade? What machinery does he suggest setting up under the Bill to allow all the arrangements to be made before each trade can adopt the Bill? I submit that it would be impossible to administer the Bill until time had elapsed for negotiation with each trade to have taken place as to how it would carry out the Bill.
§ Mr. Cassells
The answer to the hon. Member is very simple. We are discussing only one question, which is: Are the workers in this country entitled to an annual holiday with pay for an agreed period of time? Either the hon. Member agrees with that or he does not, but he evidently agrees with me on this other point, that at least it is within the ability of employers in this country to come to some suitable arrangements to meet the emergency which would be created by the Bill, and I say, in reply to the point he raises, that it is completely irrelevant to this discussion.
Passing to the question of the depart-mental Committee, I wish to repeat what was said in Committee on the Bill last year by the hon. Member for Blackpool (Mr. R. Robinson) and what has been said by the hon. Lady the Member for Springburn. Both have asked for what purpose we are sent to this House. We are assumed to be men and women of the world, men and women who understand, worldly things, and, furthermore, to be men and women who understand what the people of our country desire and insist upon getting. The Minister of Labour, instead of taking on his own shoulders the responsibility of dealing with this most important matter, thrusts that responsibility on to the shoulders of a Departmental Committee. I would like to ask when this House is likely to receive for its consideration the report of that Committee? Only yesterday I put a question to the Home Secretary with regard to the 2067 report of a committee which was set up as long ago as 1935, to deal with, I admit, an entirely different question, namely, the question of workmen's compensation —a most important question. Since I came to this House in March, 1936, I have put down, I am sure, not less than a score of questions on this same point, asking the responsible Minister when the report is to be received, and yesterday again I had the same answer—that he cannot say, that the committee is still sitting.
What is the history of this Departmental Committee? I understand that it was appointed in March or April of this year, and I find from the OFFICIAL REPORT that on 15th April this year a Question was put to the right hon. Gentleman by the hon. and learned Member for East Leicester (Mr. Lyons). The same hon. and learned Member put a further Question on 10th June, and on 22nd July another Question was asked by the hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss). Again we are told that the right hon. Gentleman cannot even say if that Departmental Committee's report is likely to be received this year or not. There is a completely unjustifiable and unwarranted delay so far as this most acute problem is concerned. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, is there any reason in the world at all why this Bill should not here and now be agreed upon? When we refer to the reply given by the right hon. Gentleman on 15th April, we find that any possible objection from the Government side, if the Government are sincere, is immediately swept away. He was asked to give:The latest estimate of the number of employed persons receiving annual holidays with pay in all sections, including Departments of State; and the percentage this represents of the whole volume of such employment.The right hon. Gentleman replied as follows:It is estimated that the number of work-people covered by collective agreements between organisations of employers and workpeople providing for annual holidays with pay, including those covering the employés in Government industrial establishments, is between 1½ and 1¾ million.…The hon. and learned Member put this further question:Is it not the fact that, in no case where this system of paid holidays has been adopted, has any other system ever been reverted to?2068 What a penetrating question. Here you have the admitted fact that many other countries—whether they are dictatorship countries or not does not matter a little bit—have adopted what is being asked for from this side of the House to-day in the present Bill. The right hon. Gentleman was asked whether in any one of these cases, after this principle had been adopted, it had ever been departed from, and his answer was:I am not aware that anyone who has adopted it has gone hack on it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th April 1937; cols. 1159–1160, Vol. 322.]What more do the Government want? The party on this side are not asking them to do anything unreasonable, but we charge them with failure n past years to accept responsibility which undoubtedly should have devolved upon them, and say that it proves gross neglect on the part of the Government that they are compelled to admit that many other countries have stepped in long since and adopted this principle, and find that its application has been to their complete satisfaction.
I have other points to make, but I do not wish to weary the House, so the only other points to which I will refer are these: If ever arguments used in moving an Amendment have been proved to be futile and spineless, the arguments which have been put forward in favour of the Amendment to-day have been so proved. For example, the hon. Member for Barrow (Sir J. Walker-Smith) said that if this system were adopted it would be of benefit to health, it would be of benefit to physical fitness, and it would make for contentment in industry, and yet at the same time he says that on being given the opportunity he will vote against the Bill. The only comment I want to make on that is that the hon. Member is only paying lip service to what we are asking in this Bill. He cannot be consistent if on the one hand he says that it will do the working community a world of good, and, on the other hand, that he is going to do absolutely nothing about it. His other point is that, if this system were applied, there would be small employers of labour who would be forced into the Bankruptcy Court and would not be able to meet the penalties laid down in the Act. Is there any proof of that? There is the very reverse, if we accept the speeches that have been made from the Government side. We 2069 find that the hon. Member who seconded the Amendment said that the cost would not be regarded as material by anyone, and the same hon. Member, on 27th November, 1936, speaking on this same subject, said:If there are those who expect that the Bill is going to be opposed upon the ground that it is putting insuperable burdens upon industry, they are doomed to disappointment. I do not believe that arguments of that kind could be or would be used."—[OFFICIAL REFORT, 27th November, 1936; cols. 742–3, Vol. 318.]I lay considerable emphasis upon the language of the hon. Member. He says he does not believe that arguments of that kind could be used. We are driven back, therefore, to only one point. That, again, is borne out by the last speech. It is that the employers of labour, although they agree that the principles suggested in the Bill would be beneficial, are entirely opposed to being coerced into paying for annual holidays for a period of two weeks by the dictates of Parliament. If that is the only cogent argument which can be put forward against the Bill, I am satisfied that any sensibly thinking individual Member of the House will treat it with the contempt it deserves.
In bringing forward this Bill, we issue a challenge to the Government. We throw our gauntlet down at the feet of the right hon. Gentleman, and ask him to come into the open and tell us immediately what the policy of the Government is. I ask him specifically, does he agree that the workers of this country are entitled to what we ask in this Bill? It is a perfectly simple and straightforward question. I trust that he will not hedge. I say further that, so far as we are concerned, the people of this country will judge from to-day's happenings in this House the bona fides of this Government. We shall judge whether they are really honest believers in the principle of democratic understanding, and we say, in conclusion, that if they are, as they say, a Government for the people, of the people, by the people, now is the opportunity to prove it to the people of Great Britain.
§ 2.7 p.m.
§ Captain Harold Balfour
If the question which the hon. Gentleman propounded is to be answered by the Government's supporters as to whether we are in favour of giving people holidays with pay. the answer is clearly 2070 affirmative; but if the question is taken rather further and we are asked whether we are in favour of having a properly-considered, carefully-prepared scheme, thought out and investigated by a body of experts, we are in favour of that. But the Opposition are in favour of a measure which, I think, fails to attain this. It seems to me rather inconsistent that the Opposition should have made the arguments to-day which they have made and that the Opposition should have asked, time after time, that the inquiry which the Minister of Labour has had set up should be speeded up, its deliberations made more thorough and its conclusions reached more quickly. I can understand the Opposition asking for a censure on the Holidays with Pay Committee, but to ask for the inquiry to be set up, as they did—
§ Captain Balfour
There was pressure put on the Government to set up the Committee. The hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. Cassells) said that there was pressure put on the Government to increase the scope of the inquiry and to take more evidence. What is the good of asking the Committee to do more, and then introducing a Measure such as this, which will prejudice every finding of the Committee? I think the principle of holidays with pay is accepted by people in all parties. I believe in it and I have the honour of representing a seaside resort, which will be more affected, probably, than any other constituency. I believe, though, that if this is introduced, according to the proposals of this Measure, my constituency and other resorts may not get the maximum benefit, because we have to consider such things as whether there should not be a spreadover by industry of the holiday periods. It may well be that if we could extend the holiday season for industry, and schools as well, from May to October, instead of squashing, as it were, all the holidays into August, and perhaps the first week of September, we should have a much more even flow of trade throughout the seaside resorts, that would be more beneficial to those resorts, and would also ease the enormous congestion which I see ahead of us on the railways if 11,000,000 workers are to have holidays 2071 with pay in August without the question of the co-ordination of transport and the spread-over of the holiday season being first investigated.
Another point which I think the House can consider is whether it would not be wise to have the views of the Committee before us before any legislation is introduced as to whether there should not be some form of indirect Exchequer help for industry towards the cost of holidays with pay. At present, owners of industrial plant can obtain an Income-tax rebate for wear and tear of plant and machinery. Surely it is equally logical to say that they might have some form of rebate in connection with the more vital form of human depreciation. Take a specific firm, employing, let us say, 1,000 men with an average wage bill of £3,000 a week. That is £150,000 a year live wage bill. Supposing that ½ of one per cent. were allowed on the total wage bill as a tax rebate, the firm would receive £750 a year rebate on the £150,000 towards the £3,000 cost of the week's holiday with pay. I only put that forward as a possible argument, not in favour of passing this Bill, but in favour of the Amendment. I would certainly support the Amendment, and not vote for this Bill, because of Clause 2, which says:Where a person is having a holiday by reason of the operation of the provisions of this Act, he shall be deemed to continue in the service of his employers and wages shall be paid to him without deduction as though he were at work full time, subject only to the deduction of any sums which he may have earned in any other employment during the period of such holiday.That wording clearly shows that the earnings of the breadwinner are to be taken into account beyond a certain sum, which is taken as the average week's wage, after which nothing is to be earned by the breadwinner during that particular fortnight. I think that is clearly the principle of a means test. Let us assume that this Bill has become law, and its provisions, therefore, must be enforced. Labour Members are proposing that the law is to define the limit of an income of a breadwinner during his holiday period for the law is to lay down the average of his previous week's wage. The law is to be responsible for watching what money goes into that home during the holiday period.
Is not the hon. and gallant Member aware that the law already does that in the case of millions of workers? The law states the amount and the scales of relief of the very poor for compensation cases.
§ Captain Balfour
Certainly the law does so in some matters, as in compensation cases. But the hon. Member who moved a similar Bill to this said in this House on 27th November last:In thousands of cases, especially in homes where there are three or four little children, it is not a question of providing for a holiday at the seaside, because even if holidays with pay were granted, they are in such straitened circumstances that they could not get away to the seaside for a stay.''—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1936; col. 726, Vol. 318.]Now hon. Members above the Gangway have consistently said and maintained that there is hardly any difference between the wages paid for work and what they term the inadequate scale of relief for unemployment. So here the law is going to control the earnings going into a home for the two weeks holiday, when the earnings are admitted to be thoroughly inadequate. Is every holiday-maker to be put through a sort of means test? Is he to be asked, "Did you or did you not earn anything?" If so, who is to check this? Are you going to use the U.A.B. or P.A.C. officials to go round to ask these questions. If not, I can see a vista of new officials being appointed. investigators of the means of the holiday-makers, a new form of means test proposed by hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway.
I was very interested to notice the names of the hon. Members who are backing the Bill. There is the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. E. Smith), and I recall that some time ago he said that the means test was iniquitous and that it had been invented by the employers' federation. This is a new form of means test in order to see that no one has more than the average of his previous wages, and it is a means test which has been invented by the Labour party. Let us remember in future, when this Bill is referred to, that the man who is on holiday is to be put through an inquiry according to the dictum of Labour party back-bench Members, that he is not to be allowed to earn any more money than his average, and that that is also according to the 2073 dictum of Labour party Members, who at the same time have said that this man's wages are inadequate.
On a point of Order. Am I in Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, in asking you to request the hon. and gallant Member to treat this subject with some degree of seriousness?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Dennis Herbert)
The degree of seriousness may be a matter of opinion, but the hon. Member should not make such suggestions to the Chair.
§ Captain Balfour
I am treating the subject with perfect seriousness, but the trouble is that the Labour party, when they bring forward a sloppily drafted Bill, ill-considered in its proposals, and when they have the fact pointed out that it means the introduction of a new means test, do not like it. If they do not like it, their constituents will be very interested indeed, when the better Measures of the future are introduced as a result of the deliberations of the Committee of Inquiry, to know that there was one Measure which died to-day, on 12th November, a Measure which was called a holiday means test Measure. The baby of the means test, as regards enforcing subsistence on inadequate wages, is on their doorstep. Every vote for this Measure is a vote for the principle of the means test applied to what hon. Members describe as the inadequate wages paid at the present time.
§ 2.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Hayday
I think one can dispose in a sentence of the arguments of the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Thanet (Captain Balfour). This is a Bill to bring about compulsory holidays with pay, and if it does that it surely is not intended that those who receive a holiday shall seek employment during the holiday period. The Bill is nothing more and nothing less than that. I do not think that any subject that has ever been before the public has met with such overwhelming support as that of the annual holidays with pay. One sees, as arrangements are made for numbers to have their annual holidays, that the holiday spirit becomes infectious, and one sees too the advantages resulting from the relaxation. Public opinion has grown to such volume that the Government of the day will find it very difficult to evade responsibility in the matter. One can quite imagine that the 2074 Amendment moved to-day was Government inspired, for the wording of it is in many respects similar to the words used when this matter has been discussed either nationally or internationally.
The Mover of the Amendment used one or two arguments with which I must deal. He spoke of difficulties, and said that the problem was so great that we had better delay for a time until the committee of inquiry makes its report. Hon. Members know, and all business men know, that there are greater problems with which industry has to deal than that of an annual holiday with pay. There is no problem of this nature that can be described as insurmountable. If this were the greatest and gravest of our industrial problems we should indeed be a happy people and not lose very much sleep. Then the hon. Member made the suggestion that there should be a general pooling system, that all industrial undertakings or commercial undertakings or agricultural undertakings should make a national contribution to a pool, and that that pool should be used for more than one purpose, for a physical fitness campaign, to give easement in supplying Territorials for camp training, and that part of it should be used for these annual holidays. That is taking us too far along the road of holiday conscription. Just imagine a number of families, when holidays must be taken. Imagine myself earlier on, as one entitled to enjoy 14 days holiday, being told that as provision is made in an Act I must take my holiday at a Territorial camp. That was an argument used why the Bill should not receive the support of the House.
Again, he says—and this is the general argument of most Members opposite— "Let us go on with voluntary agreement and see the extent to which that can grow." Anybody with any industrial experiences knows very well that there is no such thing as a voluntary agreement, that employers do not volunteer concessions, and that you get agreement only by reason of your power and organisation to impress the necessity for it upon employers. There might, here and there, be one or two, but I know of no employer who has voluntarily come along to his employés and said, "Look here, I want you to have 14 days' or a week's holiday with pay." I have known of these concessions being given only when the power of the trade union movement has been sufficiently great to impress itself upon the 2075 mind of those managing the undertaking as to the measure of inconvenience that would result by a refusal.
§ Mr. Hayday
I am speaking of industries of which I know, and I will tell the House something more. I was present at an arrangement some time ago for holidays with pay which embraced three firms in one industry. One firm declined to carry it out and the other two firms asked for a review because they said that it was impossible for them to carry it out unless the three of them did so. It is begging the question to speak of voluntary agreements. Such voluntary or collective agreement as may be in existence lasts only as long as the power of the organisation has an influence, because at times, when an employer in an industry says that it is going down somewhat, he asks for a review. I am not prepared to give consent to further waiting in matters of this sort.
The hon. Member who moved the Amendment further said that, in the international sphere, he had travelled, and he had come to the conclusion that he would prefer to work in his own country. I wonder what national would not prefer to work in his own country. It is not every worker that has the opportunity of holidaying in other countries in order to seek out the working conditions in those countries. The hon. Member was specially favoured in that direction. He says: "I have travelled. I have seen the conditions under which workmen are employed in other countries. I have come back, and I would prefer to work in my own country." Every national would like to work in his own country and also to be in the same position as the hon. Member in being able to holiday in other countries and make comparisons, but that does not follow that he is satisfied with the conditions prevailing in his own country. Another argument which he used was to the effect that if you had annual holidays by law, you would not be able to fill the places of those who were on holiday. I think that the unemployed of this country would be jolly glad to fit in for a period as the rota for holiday makers was carried out. I believe that it would be found, except in very specialised or highly technical industries, that 2076 there would be plenty of people who would be willing to fit into the places vacated by the persons who were on holiday.
I mention this to show that really the Government and their supporters only give lip-service to the principle of holidays with pay. Two hours of labour a week represents ultimately the measure of time given by an employer to a person having 14 days' holiday annually. Many in industry can concede 3s. and 4s. a week in increased wages, but if they asked that the equivalent of two hours of those wages should go for the annual holiday, you would find bitter opposition taking place on their part. I am of the opinion that annual holidays with pay would be a great national asset. If hon. Members— and I have no reason to doubt it love their country and are desirous of seeing it develop along happy and contented lines, and really feel the intensified atmosphere that surrounds the working men of to-day in comparison with 40 or 50 years ago—if they will visualise these matters they will see that public opinion is right in this matter. There is a great volume of opinion among the people of this country that the time is ripe, and if we neglect it it will show that we have not got our finger on the pulse of human thought and activity in this country. It not only makes for the individual benefit and advantage of the participant in the holiday and provides for a little easement of the dull, dreary home lift of the wife and the family, but it certainly adds a degree of helpfulness in the direction of industrial contentment. When hon. Members say "Let us wait and see to what extent we can get voluntary agreements" do they mean that, as this volume of opinion gathers and grows, we in the trade union movement must make a more definite fight to force it? Do they mean that it would he beneficial if the great trade union movement conducted a national campaign for national holidays with pay with the possibility of a rupture in industry taking place? Would they come behind us then and say "Well done, go on; you are on the right lines." If by Act of Parliament we could bring about a condition of affairs that would lead to increased contentment and happiness in industry and in the home life of the people, we should have done very well.
2077 Let me say a few words about the official attitude. The Government usually resort to the dodge of setting up a Committee. That has been their attitude in international and national affairs relating to social and industrial welfare. British diplomacy is very cleverly veiled Machiavellian intention. They can always give specialised and specious reasoning that might lead people who do not know quite about as much of it as we do, to believe that they are really anxious and desirous of making a law to deal with these matters if only they could get others to come along. What is their record? When this matter was discussed at the International Labour Conference at Geneva, the British Government, in reply to the questionnaire said:The Government are of opinion that holidays with pay should be provided where— ever circumstances permit. They feel, how— ever, that apart from other difficulties attendant upon an attempt to deal with this matter by means of international regulations the consideration which has so far been given to the problem has not taken into account the great problem presented by the large pro— portion of workpeople who during the year work for different employers or who are not continuously employed. It does not appear, therefore, that it would be possible to adopt international regulations in the form of a Draft Convention. The Government, however, would be prepared to support the adoption of a Recommendation which would have the object of encouraging all practicable steps to be taken to extend the provision of holidays with pay and of stimulating further consideration of this subject.That was their reply to the questionnaire, but we can find no trace of any action on those lines being taken by the Government when this matter was up again in 1935 or on the final voting in 1936. In 1936, the employers' representatives opposed the Convention on the ground that it would inflict hardship on the unemployed workers in various countries, particularly in England. The argument used then was that if we had holidays with pay compulsorily imposed by Act of Parliament or convention it would become imperative on the part of some undertakings to discharge men, thereby adding to the volume of unemployment.
When the voting took place in June, 1936, on the final report on the Convention concerning annual holidays with pay, which was then recommended not as 14 days but six days, and 12 days 2078 for apprentices and young persons, the Convention was carried by 99 votes to 16. Thirty-nine governments voted for the Convention. What about the statement of the British Government that they were prepared to support a recommendation? They said that they wanted more time to consider all the details associated with the problem. The thirty-nine countries supporting holidays with pay' were not merely small South American countries. The 16 votes given against the Convention were the votes not of governments but of employers' representatives. Eleven governments abstained from voting, and among the eleven abstentions were Great Britain,. Japan and India. That is the new. alliance. Since the Convention was passed and sent to the Parliaments of the various countries, India has replied that she will not ratify the Convention. Great Britain said that she had reported the matter to the House of Commons in November of last year, but she did not report any other action taken.
We have, therefore, world opinion on the side of the Convention for compulsory holidays with pay. The final voting showed 38 countries voting in favour of the Convention and there were 15 votes against. Twelve governments abstained and Great Britain was among the twelve. We find the British Government while pretending to support measures for social amelioration to which the workers of this country are justly entitled, refraining from voting. They have not put forward any grounds of logic and reason for their attitude. The opponents of the proposal do not advance logic and reason but only veiled sarcasm. When I hear hon. Members opposing this Bill I wonder that one does not see a halo of glory over their heads, because they profess how kindly and how deeply they feel on this matter and how desirous they are for the welfare of the workers in industry. There is, however, no sanctifying grace about their opposition. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to explain why the Government have always sat on the fence. In these two instances they supported the proposal, then they abstained, and on other occasions they have been found hacking the International Confederation of Employers, who have always found backing and support from the British Government. It appears that 2079 the power and influence of the international organisation of employers is too great for them. It is interesting to note that, apart from the United States and New Zealand, the International Confederation of Employers have always opposed holidays with pay.
I hope the Government will allow the Bill to go through. If there are some 'details which require alteration, the proper place is in Committee upstairs. It may be said that Parliament has considered the Bill before. Yes, but the subtlety of the attack has over-powered any desire for this social improvement, and has brought about the destruction of the Bill. The Government and their supporters have a choice. Do not, then, give lip-service. If they are opposed to the Bill let them say so openly so that the people can understand their position. I think, however, that public opinion in this country is so overwhelmingly in support of such a Measure as this that they will expect from the British House of Commons something more than words. They will expect something which will take away the tears and agony from the features of many toilers in present day industrialism, something which will bring tears of laughter rather than sadness, something which will bring more happiness into their lives, which in itself is bound to have some beneficial effect on the nation.
§ 2.48 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Butler)
On the last occasion that I intervened to state the Government's point of view on a private Member's Bill I had the distinction of making one of the shortest speeches, and I will not disappoint the House by breaking that record to-day. We appreciate the reasons why the Bill has been brought forward and the sincerity of hon. Members opposite. In particular I would remark on the sincerity of the hon. Member who moved the Second Reading. We shall pay full attention to what he said and to the cheers which greeted his speech. I remember talking to a billposter whose task was to plaster on railway station platforms pictures of the sort of constituency represented by the hon. Member who moved the Second Reading and the hon. and gallant Member for Thanet (Captain Balfour). He had to plaster beautiful 2080 bathing belles, beautiful coast scenes on drab railway platforms of the Midlands and his comment on his life's work was, "It sets me up wonderful. I can rarely get away but I can look at this." That is our feeling to-day. Our task at the Ministry of Labour is of course one of labour, and it sets one up wonderfully to hear the sort of speeches to which we have listened to-day. I was not quite sure whether the hon. Member for Springburn (Mrs. Hardie) was as much in need of health as she said. I am not sure whether she will profit by a visit to the constituency of the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. M. MacMillan), because her speech was so full of colour and vigour that she must be among the few members of the House who are not in need of a holiday at the present moment. I should like to congratulate her on her maiden effort, and hope that we shall hear her on many future occasions.
I think I can simplify the issue for hon. Members who want to make up their minds as to what action they will take this afternoon. I can simplify it by saying that from our point of view the only question this afternoon is the practical one of deciding upon the manner in which holidays with pay may be assured for the greatest number of workpeople. It is not a question of deciding whether you are in favour of a compulsory system or a system of voluntary agreement. It is a question of deciding upon the manner in which holidays with pay may be assured to the greatest possible number.—[Interruption.] I can assure hon. Members that we are actuated by the same degree of sincerity on this important question as hon. Members opposite. I ask hon. Members to believe that we are moved by appeals like that of the hon. Lady when she said that when going for holidays she does not like to feel that working people in many instances are deprived of a similar leisure. I was impressed by the observations of the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Thanet on the strain of industry, and the wear and tear caused by machinery. There is undoubtedly a wear and tear of the human element, and all progressive people in industry can realise that this wear and tear of the human machine wants remedying by holidays with pay.
Having put before hon. Members what action they should take this afternoon let roe develop the matter a little further. 2081 In our opinion it would be the wiser course for the House to support the Amendment, because we believe that the action the Government have taken in setting up a strong and formidable Committee to consider this matter is the most valuable if we are to come to a practical decision on this important question. The hon. Member who moved the Second Reading said that the Government have no respect for previous findings of the House. I would say that we have respect for previous opinions of the House, as my predecessor in this office was able to announce that the Government were setting up a Committee to go immediately into this question and report upon all practical matters connected with it. That shows that the Government realise the feelings of hon. Members in all parts of the House on the question. The hon. Member for the Western Isles referred to the Committee as an opportunist committee. I can assure him that we have taken this action quite sincerely because tie thought it the best.
Let me describe the constitution of this Committee which has been criticised by one or two hon. Members. I believe that when they have considered closely the constitution of this Committee they will not maintain their attitude of criticism towards it and its labours. The Committee consists of six representatives of the employers, six representatives of the trade unions, and three independent members. Here I will take up the point made by the Lady in her speech, that it is very difficult for anyone to express anything new on a Committee, by saying that we have provided three independent members who, I am sure, will be of very great assistance in the deliberations. They are Lady Findlay, Mr. Montgomery, Recorder of Chester, and the Provost of Oriel, who has given so much of his life to the study of labour questions. I believe that those three independent members will very much aid the deliberations of the Committee. The Committee is under the Chairmanship of Lord Amulree, whose credentials for the part could not, I maintain, be better. We should like to thank him, as a past President of the Industrial Court for seven years after the War and as one who has had great industrial experience, and to thank the Committee, for the difficult and arduous task which they have undertaken.
2082 Let me remind hon. Members who are considering whether it is right that we should wait for the report of the Committee of the constitution of the employers' and workers' sides of the Committee. On the employers' side there is the chairman of the Labour Committee of the National Farmers' Union, a representative of the Engineering and Allied Employers' Federation, the general manager of the Port of London Authority, the president of the Federation of Master Cotton Spinners, and the president of the Mining Association, together with the chairman of Debenham's who is also a director of the Royal Exchange Insurance Company. On the workers' side, not only is there a past president of the Trades Union Congress General Council, but the present president of it. Other workers' representatives are Mr. Dukes, general secretary of the National Union of General and Municipal Workers, a former Member of this House; Mr. Hallsworth, secretary of the National Union of Distributive and Allied Workers and a member of the Governing Body of the International Labour Office; and the hon. Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Hicks), who is general secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers. Therefore, the Committee cannot be said to be a weak one.
§ Mr. Butler
The hon. Member is probably about to ask me why I have not mentioned one important Member. It is the lady Member of the Committee, Miss Anne Loughlin, O.B.E., of the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers, a member of the Trades Union Congress General Council. The Committee is probably one of the strongest committees on industrial matters that has ever been set up.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Why on earth is there not a representative of the miners? The president of the Mining Association is a member, but there is no miners' representative.
§ Mr. Butler
The hon. Member must remember that not only is the Committee a strong one in its constitution, but that evidence is being heard from all sorts of different bodies, and it is natural that the vital question which he raised should receive the attention that it deserves. What the Government suggest to hon. 2083 Members this afternoon is that they should not act in this House as though the work of the Committee was of no value, by prejudging the issue and by sending this Bill upstairs to a Committee at the same time as such an expert and distinguished Committee is considering the question. The Government could not possibly advise the House to take the action of supporting the Second Reading of this Bill without being extremely unfair and discourteous to the Committee which they have deliberately set up and the opinion of which they are waiting with such interest. It would be equally unfair to the Trade Union members of the Committee if the House took such action as this, because I believe that, like all the other members of the Committee, they are sincerely inspired by the wish to present a report on the multifarious problems that arise as soon as possible. The Minister of Labour announced yesterday, in answer to a Question, that the Committee would be hearing its final evidence probably on 1st December, and would thereupon set about the task of preparing its report. Therefore, we are not asking the House to agree to an undue period of delay. We are suggesting that it would be much the most comprehensive and much the most practical method of considering the problem of holidays with pay to await the report of this strong Committee.
I said that the practical question was to decide the manner in which holidays with pay could be given to the greatest number of workers. Let me now refer to the contents of this Bill for the purpose of seeing whether that is, in fact, achieved by the Bill. If hon. Members will look at the provisions of Sub-section (2) of Clause 9, they will see that a man not in employment full time is not covered by the Bill. That is the same problem as was raised by the hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Hayday), when he referred to the views of the Government in the international labour field. In giving their views upon the draft convention to which the hon. Member referred, the Government used the expression which he quoted to the House, that they thought the problem presented by the large proportion of workpeople who, during the year, work for different employers or who are not continuously employed, should be thoroughly considered. 2084 Therefore, it so happens that the problem which we wanted to have fully considered in the international labour field needs still more to be fully considered if one looks closely at the contents of the Bill.
Let me say a few words about the criticism of the Government which was made by the hon. Member for West Nottingham. I am glad to say that I have worked with the hon. Member in the closest friendship at Geneva. We have had to differ, but let the hon. Member remember that in being strictly practical in our consideration of the documents put before us, whether they be international conventions or sincere Bills of this type, we believe that we are best serving the true interests of the workpeople. That is particularly the case with this Bill which, if it were given a Second Reading to-day, would not adequately provide for the many thousands, indeed the millions, of working people whose employment is not continuous throughout the year. I do not intend to go into further details in regard to this Bill—that indeed has been done with some success by the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Thanet—but I will sum up the Government's attitude towards this Bill by saying that one cannot deal with this matter in such simple terms as the Bill does. I would remind the House, remembering that these very words were used by the hon. Member for Chester—le-Street (Mr. Lawson) in 1929, about a similar Measure, that we do not wish to shelve the problem, but rather to consider it in a more comprehensive and practical manner than this Bill gives us an opportunity to do to-day.
§ Mr. Lawson
As the hon. Member has referred to me, will he do what I did on that occasion? I voted in support of the Bill; will he go into the Lobby in support of this Bill?
§ Mr. Butler
The hon. Gentleman will have heard that I said the Government's view was that it would be wiser to support the Amendment which was moved in such an able way by the hon. Member for South Battersea (Mr. Selley). That is the action which the Government recommend to the House on this occasion.
Before I deal with the progress which has already been achieved, I want to thank the hon. Member who opened the Debate for his references to the agricultural worker. That is an example of the 2085 sort of problem which arises in connection with this question, and I am glad to draw attention to the necessity for considering the needs, not only of workpeople in industry, but also of workpeople in agriculture. Evidence has already been placed before the Committee on the problem of the agricultural worker who, for example, has to tend stock and has difficulty in getting away from his work. That is the problem of the man who has duties to which he must return on set occasions. Upon that problem we wish to get advice from the Committee.
There are other classes of workers on whose cases we are looking for advice. There is, for example, the case of the butcher's assistant who gets to know the habits of the families who are served by him. In various trades there are certain assistants who know the little personal predilections of their clients and in their case, the question of holidays would present certain difficulties. There is also the salesman who gets to know the particular wishes of particular clients. In the evidence given to the committee on behalf of these trades, it has been suggested by their representatives, to whose view we ought to pay attention, that in some of these cases it might be desirable to break the holiday period at the week-ends and fix it in between certain week-ends. That illustrates the kind of problem which representatives of various trades have been putting before the committee and upon which, as I say, we desire advice. There is also the special problem of the building trade which was mentioned by the hon. Lady. We want advice as to the worker in the building trade who changes his employer in the course of the year, and who may not have continuous employment during the year.
Without going further into detail, I think I have said enough to show that on the human side of the activities of the workers as well as on the technical side there are difficult problems. We have to decide whether this holiday should be granted by a contributory scheme or by a pooled fund such as is done in the building industry in France, or by the system recently adopted in the engineering industry. The Government are sincerely anxious to deal with this problem in a more comprehensive manner than that provided for in the Bill, and I think the 2086 House will see the wisdom of the Government's policy when they reflect that such discussions as this do nothing but good. A great stimulus has been given to the conclusion of agreements for holidays with pay in certain industries as a result of these discussions, and if the hon. Member is not successful this afternoon, I hope he will at least gain that measure of consolation. Let him reflect that since the matter was last discussed in the House no fewer than 1,000,000 people have been granted holidays with pay by agreement within their industries. The industries affected include the engineering and allied industries; plate glass manufacturing; electric cable manufacturing; retail tailoring in the West End of London; saw-making and grinding; file manufacturing and several other industries.
§ Mr. Butler
The House will see that there has been a distinct growth in the granting of holidays with pay. There are two methods of achieving progress in the industrial field. One is by sudden action —and I think that would be the effect of the decision of the House if this Bill was given a Second Reading—upon insufficient evidence by means of a Measure which is not comprehensive enough to cover a large number of the workpeople in this country at the present time. The other method is to obtain the requisite data, then to consider it, and, finally, to try and do one's best, in as comprehensive a manner as possible, to give this great boon and benefit, and indeed necessity, to many or most of our workpeople in this country.
§ 3.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Riley
As the Member who had the privilege of submitting to this House the first Bill on this question, 12 years ago, I am naturally interested in looking at the progress which has been made with regard to its possible realisation. I noticed just now that the Minister appeared to take a certain amount of satisfaction in the fact that in the last 12 months or so about 1,000,000 people who had previously had no holiday with pay are now enjoying that reform. I think I am entitled to retort, "No thanks to the Government," because I think I am correct in saying that never since this question was broached 12 years ago, in 1925, when the first Bill 2087 was submitted, have the Government or the party that the Government represent taken a single step to try and advance this desirable reform or to secure its achievement. Every Bill on this question—and this is the fourth occasion—has come from Members on this side of the House, and on no single occasion, either in this House or at Geneva, can the Government claim any credit for enlightening public opinion on this question.
With regard to the objection to that principle of compulsion which is laid down in the Bill, one does not disguise the fact—it has been asserted by every speaker in this Debate and, I believe, on previous occasions—that there is no difference of opinion as to the desirability of this reform. Everybody agrees that it is highly desirable, and everybody is in favour of it, "but," they say, "we do not want to see it done by compulsion; we want to see it gradually realised by collective agreement." I think I am right in saying that neither do we on this side desire to resort to compulsion if it is not necessary, but our case is that in this matter of securing holidays with pay for the great mass of working people compulsion is absolutely necessary. I failed to notice that the Minister or indeed any other speaker met the point of view which has been put over and over again that there are 9,000,000 workers in this country who are not organised in any kind of trade union, who are not, in other words, enjoying the benefits of good pay. On the other hand, the manual workers, including those not covered by the Insurance Acts, probably number something like 16,000 000 or 17,000,000. We have only 4,000,000 people who are covered by trade union organisations in a position to enter into collective agreements with employers.
We ask the Government what they are going to do with regard to the claims of these eight or nine million workers who have no form of collective organisation. We have been told by the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Amendment that he is in favour of these people being in strong trade union organisations, but the fact is they are not, and that is the difficulty. On the question of compulsion, I should like to ask hon. Members to reflect on what is the difference between establishing this desirable reform by a general Act of Parliament and applying compulsion by 2088 law to provision for unemployment, for health insurance, for contributory pensions and for industrial accidents. We are all agreed that there must be a general obligation enforced by law to provide for those contingencies and to compel the employers to make provision in their industries for them. I ask those who have this objection to compulsion, what is the real difficulty in the way?
§ Mr. Selley
Is not the great difference that in the cases quoted by the hon. Member the State and the employés take part, but in this case the whole burden is to be placed on to the employers? It is clear that some employes are not organised and are not able to take part. If the State took part and everyone was compelled to do so, that would be the answer.
§ Mr. Riley
It is true that there is a distinction, but in so far as the employer has to bear by law a certain measure of responsibility for the sustenance of his workers when they are unemployed, for their health when they are unhealthy, and for their convalescence when they are injured, he is subject to a general obligation by law, and not to voluntary effort. From that point of view there is no real difference in principle.
Apart from the objections of compulsion, there have been raised certain common bogies why this reform should not be carried into operation. The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Thanet (Captain Balfour) said that if this Bill became law and holidays with pay were obligatory, we should be imposing a means test upon persons who had the compulsory holiday, for they would not be allowed to earn more during the holiday than they would receive working at their ordinary occupations. That is a sheer bogy, and if the hon. and gallant Member has any doubt about it let him put the proposition to his constituents, asking whether they are in favour of having a fortnight's holiday with pay, and they will risk the means test. They will go for the holiday with both hands. If that is the bogy it is one which they will swallow without any hesitation.
§ Mr. Riley
Yes, without any encouragement from hon. Members opposite. There was also the bogy raised by the hon. 2089 Member for Hallam (Mr. L. Smith) and several other hon. Members when they said that while, of course, this was a desirable reform, for which they were enthusiastic, it might bankrupt some employers and who asked where the people would get the money for their holidays in such a case. What a question to raise. What occurs now when a firm goes bankrupt? The employés have a claim for their wages, and they would have a claim for their holiday money in the same way; or if that is not satisfactory the risk could be insured. All those are sheer bogies, and I suggest to hon. Members opposite that they are doing themselves no good in their constituencies by opposing a reform which they realise that everybody wants.
§ 3.23 p.m.
§ Wing-Commander Wright
Once again I find myself compelled to oppose a Measure put forward from the Opposition benches, although, as I have said before on many occasions, I am not only in complete sympathy with the principle of it but am carrying out payment for holidays in my own works. Therefore, I feel that it is necessary to explain in a few words why I feel compelled to support the Amendment and to vote against this Bill. In the first place, it seems to me that this is exactly the same Bill as the one on which the House failed to agree last Session, when a way out was found by setting up a Departmental Committee to examine the facts and try to produce something on which the House could agree. Now, before that Committee has reported, a second Bill is introduced. I suggest that we are in danger of making ourselves somewhat of a laughing-stock by behaving like this, and not waiting for the report of the Committee which we ourselves have set up. But that is not the main reason why I shall support the Amendment. I am going to support the Amendment because this is a thoroughly had Bill. In the first place, it fails entirely to achieve the object which is suggested by its title. Anyone who changes from one job to another during the period of 12 months, and anybody who is so unfortunate as to be out of work at all during the 12 months, does not qualify for holidays with pay. I should have thought that those who have been out of work during the 12 months need holidays with pay more than those who have been in regular employment.
2090 But the real gem of this Bill comes in Clause 2, one aspect of which has already been dealt with by the hon. and gallant Member for Thanet (Captain Balfour). I view the matter rather differently. It seems to me that Clause 2 definitely makes it allowable for a worker to go on working during this period when he is having holidays with pay. The whole object of the proposal is that he should have a holiday, but under the proposals of the Bill a man need only walk across the street to a similar factory and exchange places for a fortnight with a man doing a similar job in the other factory and everything will go on as it was. They will get the same pay, they will get no holiday, and the employer will not contribute anything. If ever there were a Bill designed to help the bad employer, this is it, and for that reason, more than any other, I shall support the Amendment, and shall vote against the Bill.
§ 3.26 p.m.
Mr. Creech Jones
Probably every Bill brought into this House by hon. Members on these benches has been described as a bad Bill by hon. Members on the other side. Here is a fairly simple Bill declaring for a principle which has not yet been recognised by the other side of the House. An hon. Member who spoke just now said that Members on these benches were throwing a spanner of discord into the delicate machinery of industry; we make no apology for throwing spanners of discord into the delicate machinery of industry because it is largely due to the struggle and the effort of organised labour that industry has reached its present standard of efficiency. This insistence upon improvements and reform has caused great employers of labour to adjust their industries in the light of modern standards, and to adopt a scientific standard. It is that process which has made industry as efficient as it is. We make no apology for urging again to-day that this reform should be placed upon the Statute Book of this country.
The Minister has told us that as a committee of inquiry is sitting it would be courteous of us to await the results of its deliberations. He told us that it would be unfair for this House to prejudge the issue. We are determined that the issue shall be decided here and now. Are the workers to get a statutory holiday, or are they not? It may be necessary for a 2091 committee of inquiry sometimes to make recommendations, and it may be necessary, also, at times, to know how certain principles can be applied and implemented in industry, but there is already a considerable volume of experience, not only in our own country but gathered together in the records in Geneva, to tell us how this reform can be translated into action. We were told previously that we ought to wait for workpeople to negotiate this improvement with their employers, and that statutory provision ought not to be sought. For many years I was a trade union official, and I know and appreciate the vast importance to the organised workers' movement of securing collective agreements not with the aid of the State but by the strong arm of the workers themselves. Nevertheless, I am conscious that there is often no permanent stability in such collective agreements. There are vast armies of men and large numbers of unregulated employers who are altogether outside any possible terms of collective agreement. Further, I suggest that by a statutory provision we should be protecting the good employer against the ravages of the bad employer. For these reasons alone I suggest that we should bring in a statutory provision to reinforce collective bargaining.
Of course, there are difficulties in the way of a statutory provision, but, as I have already suggested, there is this accumulation of facts in the archives at Geneva and in the reports published by the International Labour Office, and there is already considerable practical knowledge, which has been expressed in evidence before the Committee that is now sitting. We want to be assured that we are not dodging the real issue by leaving the matter to that Committee. It has been a favourite method of Governments in the past, and of this Government, to set up Committees when they themselves were not anxious to reach an agreement. We suggest that it is imperative that the House of Commons should declare where it stands on this issue here and now, and, through this Bill, should at least adopt the principle. Then it will he possible, by Amendments in Committee, to secure those minor changes which have been mentioned in the Debate to-day. If certain industries are able to arrange special schemes, it would certainly be possible to incorporate 2092 some system of contracting out, provided that the standard was not less than that provided for in the Bill, and therefore it is no excuse to say that, because these difficulties exist in certain industries, the Bill cannot be amended in such a way as to make provisions of that kind. It is, I submit, already obvious from the experience where holidays with pay have already been provided under certain national schemes, that industry stands to gain enormously by a higher output from the workers, by a greater efficiency in their work, by a healthier body of men, and, incidentally, by a smaller number of accidents.
It is odd that it is only since the industrial revolution that man has been made the slave of work, and it is agreed in all quarters of the House that there are great social and health advantages in allowing for this recuperation and relaxation. When one thinks of the drab, ugly, miserable surroundings of the vast majority of workers, it becomes almost a moral obligation upon us to see that, at least for a short period in the year, they are lifted out of the gloom and noise and drab conditions of their daily life. It has been admitted as a working principle in industry that the non-manual workers, the staff and technicians, should enjoy holidays, and that as a matter of course their holidays should be paid for and normally provided. Therefore it seems to me to be perfectly logical to extend the principle to all who are necessary for the proper running of industry; and, if we are passing through a period of industrial prosperity, if industry is expanding, now is the time for a reform of this kind to be brought about.
I personally have had some considerable experience in the organisation of holidays for working people. I have no axe to grind, because the organisation of which I am an official is a co-operative body which uses all its surpluses for international and educational work; but I know something, as the result of my experience, of the difficulties which surround ordinary workers who would like to take a holiday. I know how difficult it is for them to get time off, how dear holidays are when they have to be paid for by the sacrifice of their wages, and how infrequently it is possible for many workpeople to get holidays at all. I receive regularly letters from working people who have taken a holiday for the 2093 first time, or after a long period during which they have not been able to get a holiday, and it is difficult to describe the joy of the experience for them. I receive letters, too, from those who have managed to get abroad for the first time, and I would like to testify what an enormous social gain and educational advantage it is for workers to pass through that experience. It is an enormous stimulus. Those of us who enjoy holidays in a regular fashion are only too blasé about them, but you have only to talk to a workman who has been abroad for the first time and has been using his eyes, to see what an enormous inspiration it brings, and the new horizon it opens up to him. I would suggest that, in an age when international cooperation is imperative, and some understanding of international machinery becomes increasingly necessary, and the world with its insularity is rushing to ruin, the provision of holidays, particularly such as will enable workers to go abroad, is of enormous value, and we should not stand in the way of this achievement. There is also much to be said for holidays for working people at home. The introduction of working people to new surroundings and different scenes, and enabling them to meet people with different experiences, is of tremendous value. The fact that they can visit beautiful houses is of great value in improving their taste and building up new standards of appreciation and thought.
Likewise, as has already been said, in regard to physical fitness, if we want our youths to stand the pace of industry we should see that they have facilities for enjoyment, and holidays in which the new facilities can be increasingly taken advantage of. The development of the Youth Hostels Association in recent years has been of great importance in enabling young people to spend their holidays in a healthy way. We want more national parks, of course, and greater access to mountains and moors, but if we want physical fitness we ought to see that youth has the opportunity of enjoying the great heritage which the English people have at their doors. Unfortunately, to-day, apart from the occasional and expensive daily excursion to some sophisticated seaside place, too few of the workers can have holidays at all, and, as I look at the evidence, I discover that comparatively few workers can 2094 get away for a holiday, and that family people are virtually debarred altogether. So, if we make provision, we should make provision for holidays with pay.
Some of us had the experience in France this year of seeing the enormous effect that this new legislation has had in that country, and the joyous relaxation of great armies of workers taking holidays for the first time. There is undoubtedly a great deal of substance in the point that holidays stimulate transport, help the hotel industry, and indeed increase industry all the way round. What is possible and true in France and in other countries which have adopted this legislation can be made true here. So I do hope that the House will not delay this matter further. It is a practical proposition, in so far as the simple Bill now before the House can be amended in Committee so as to meet the objections raised by the Minister. It is also true that there is already this vast accumulation of experience which can be applied in a proper implementation of the principle of the Bill. For these reasons I ask the House to give a Second Reading to the Bill.
§ 3.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Fleming
I shall not delay for very long an hon. Member opposite who wants to speak. In my opinion though the intention may be excellent the Bill is a very bad one. It has already been said by the hon. and gallant Member for Thanet (Captain Balfour) that Clause 2 will be absolutely unworkable without something like an army of inspectors to see that its provisions are carried out. Without such an inspection I am afraid we shall have an instance of a Section of an Act being ignored, and that of course would not bring credit either to this House or to those who have the duty of administering our laws. But in view of what has been said by some hon. Members opposite as to the views of Members who sit on this side of the House, I would like to point out that I am one of those who are in no sense at all afraid of compulsion. Any one who has studied our Statutes is driven to one conclusion; They are full of compulsory Sections. I am not in the least afraid of compulsion in this or any other Bill. But I say that if you want to obtain a thing in a compulsory way, do let your Bill be properly drafted so as to attain that object. Otherwise you find that once again you have put on the 2095 Statute Book on Act that will merely bring grist to the mill of the lawyers. I am not saying anything against that. I am merely giving hon. Members some free advice on this Bill. I am doing nothing at all against the legal profession in pointing to this fact.
There is another point. Some hon. Members have been speaking very strongly in favour of voluntary agreements. I have always been in favour of voluntary agreements wherever they are possible, but when I look at the workers of this country and consider that there are something like 18,000,000 insured workers and probably only about 4,000,000 who belong to trade unions, I cannot see how hon. Members opposite are going to attain the object adumbrated in the Bill merely by voluntary agreement; I cannot see who is going to speak for the vast majority of the workers of the country when they do not belong to any trade union organisation. I hope that hon. Members opposite are not going to suggest that I am in any way a propagandist for driving people into trade unions. That is not my job at all. I merely point to this fact as another way in which people who speak at random about voluntary agreements fail to see that at some time that system, although we all prefer it to compulsory methods, is bound to fail unless you have on both sides really responsible people who can come to an agreement. I fail to see that that obtains to-day in this country.
Here is another point, and it will be my last. I have also seen the scheme in operation on the Continent. I have seen it in France, and I happen to be able to speak the language of the workers of that country. I have been among them and have spoken to them. I found no objection, certainly, to M. Blum's idea of a compulsory holiday with pay. But there seems to be a greater opinion growing—that was last June—that they would be far better off, really, if they had more wages and fewer holidays, in some parts of the country, at any rate. I have come to the conclusion that the first thing that our people want in this country is work, and, secondly, a good wage for that work. They seem to think, in the part of the country from which I come, that if this House could guarantee our folk work at a decent living wage, the rest would look after itself. Nevertheless, I do not want 2096 any hon. Member in this House to think that I am opposed to the consideration of holidays with pay, whether it be voluntary or compulsory, but this Bill, as drawn, will not attain the object which hon. Members opposite so strongly desire.
§ 3.47 p.m.
§ Mr. David Grenfell
I apologise and make my acknowledgments to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Withington (Mr. Fleming) for shortening his speech for my convenience. The House ought to congratulate itself to-day upon the opportunity given to it to consider a matter of such wide interest and importance, and it should be very careful not to misinterpret the wishes of the public outside. The House would do well to ponder as to the way in which members should cast their votes to-day. I congratulate both the Mover and the Seconder of the Motion for the Second Reading of the Bill, and particularly the Mover, who introduced the Bill with eloquence, good humour and tact as befits a young man of a poetic, patriotic and progressive outlook. We were exceptionally fortunate in having such a Bill introduced in this way, and I congratulate my hon. Friends upon the way they performed their task. I should like to congratulate the whole House, but I will defer that until after the Division. I shall think very highly of the House if it accepts this Bill. It has already done so on a previous occasion, and I would ask whether anything has happened in the meantime to make the House go back on this very vital social question? Despite our predelictions, views and responsibilities, we are living in a world of modern ideas of work and working conditions. If we fail to remember that fact we cannot do our duty. I do not desire to criticise anyone who has spoken, but I think that the speeches which have been made to-day have been a little below the high standard to which this House occasionally rises.
For 100 years we have been applying ourselves to social improvements, and the last 25 years of Parliamentary life has been given to the building up of a very intricate, fundament al and important series of legislative measures. The worker, fortunately, is not left to battle with the affairs of this life. The worker has been involved in a vast network of legislative provisions. He is not now a 2097 defenceless person as in former generations, but is subject to legislation at every stage of his life. We are still working for, and I hope we are on the way to, a much higher standard of responsibility for this House and a much higher standard of living for our people. We have gone a long way towards securing uniformity of hours of employment. There is not now a very wide disparity between the long days of toil to which some people are subject and the shorter days of toil that some people enjoy. We have also made progress in reducing the disparity in wages. We have been building up from the bottom new wage standards, and have been doing good work for the lower paid workers through trade boards. We have been doing that year after year. We have fixed the age of entry into industrial life. We have improved our Factory Acts. I am sure the House must appreciate the tremendous improvement in the code of factory legislation which we passed a year ago. We have built up a wonderful code of industrial protection for the workers, with wide ramifications and diverse measures for safeguarding life and health in a variety of ways. All these industrial questions have long since become political questions, and it is useless trying to divorce political from industrial question.
We have been trying to level up the conditions of life and the conditions of security, health and welfare, and we ought to be very proud of what we have been permitted to do. We have heard something of what is done in dictator States. In so far as they have interfered with organisation in industry that is not the kind of thing that we want in this country. We want to proceed by building up sound, safe, health and industrial conditions for our people by the common consent of the people, so that we can feel that we are making a contribution in a real and practical patriotic way to the provision of true citizenship for our people. Does any hon. Member believe that we can get physical fitness without industrial legislation? Does anyone think that this question is divorced from the condition of our people? Physical fitness requires the essentials of food, housing and fresh air, suitable occupation and suitable conditions in that occupation. Travel, too, is an acknowledged necessity of good citizenship. Seeing our own 2098 country is a great tonic. We must cultivate a sense of beauty in our people, and coupled with that sense of beauty a love of our own country. The worker is as much entitled to the enjoyment of travel as anybody else, and we neglect our opportunity if we ignore that claim.
We make our demand to-day by reminding ourselves that we live under conditions of increasing organisation. Greater London has now 10,000,000 inhabitants, and those 10,000,000 people live within a short distance of this House. People are being drawn more and more into larger and larger cities and towns away from the simple country, the lake-lands and the mountains spoken of so eloquently by the Mover of the Second Reading of the Bill. Many of our people are strangers in their own land. The only way that we can enable our people to know their own country, the most beautiful country in the world, is to give them the opportunities of holidays with pay. I have travelled much, but I would remind hon. Members that I never had a holiday until I became a Member of this House. I have seen the world and have always come back with a thrill of pride in my own country, and I wish to share that pride and that enjoyment with every one of our people. The only way which you can help our people is to give them holidays with pay; their conditions of labour do not give them the means or the opportunity for travel and change.
All we are asking to-day is that after 50 weeks' toil at their occupation they shall be released from work for two weeks in order that they may spend a day or two or a week at a place like that mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Thanet (Captain Balfour), who stirred us to admiration for his advertising abilities. The hon. and gallant Member took the opportunity of this solemn occasion in the history of Parliament to advertise the beauties of his constituency. I was a little envious because mine is a much prettier division. The hon. and gallant Member invited us all to come to the Isle of Thanet and at the end disappointed us, for, having championed the claims of his constituency as a seaside resort, and having extended the widest general invitation to all to visit these surroundings, he came down brutally against this modest little Measure. The hon. Member does not want the miners, the weavers, the tailors and the factory 2099 workers to come down to the Isle of Thanet; in fact, he is not going to make it possible for them to go. He is standing in their way. He referred to a means test and said that two weeks' wages for doing no work is rather a substantial concession. It is rather difficult to get wages when you are in employment. He referred to the expense of this concession. An hon. Member opposite said that 45 per cent. of the return of industry goes to wages. These two weeks would mean only an additional 4 per cent., or a little
§ less. I am sorry that I am unable to continue the Debate. I must support the Motion, and hope that the House will now even at the last moment ponder seriously for a minute or two, and then decide to come into the Division Lobby with us in the interests of the community as a whole.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided Ayes, 133; Noes, 134.2101
|Division No. 11.]||AYES.||[3.59 p.m.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Groves, T. E.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Ammon, C. G||Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Price, M. P.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Hardie, Agnes||Pritt, D. N.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Halt, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Ridley, G.|
|Barr, J.||Harvey, Sir G.||Riley, B.|
|Batey, J.||Hayday, A.||Ritson, J.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Bonn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Rothschild, J. A. de|
|Benson, G.||Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)|
|Bevan, A.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Sanders, W. S.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hopkin, D.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Jagger, J.||Shinwell, E.|
|Buchanan, G.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Short, A.|
|Cape, T.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Silkin, L.|
|Cassells, T.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Silverman, S. S.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Chater, D.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kirby, B. V.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Cove, W. G.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Lathan, G||Stephen, C.|
|Daggar, G.||Lawson, J. J.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n.le-Sp'ng)|
|Dalton, H.||Leach, W.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Lee, F.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Leonard, W.||Thorne, W.|
|Day, H.||Leslie, J. R.||Thurtle, E.|
|Dobbie, W.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Tinker, J. J.|
|Dunn. E. (Rother Valley)||McEntee, V. La T.||Viant, S. P.|
|Ede, J. C.||McGhee, H. G.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||MacLaren, A.||Walker, J.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||MacNeill, Weir, L.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Marklew, E.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Frankel. D.||Marshall, F.||Westwood, J.|
|Gallacher, W.||Mathers, G.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Maxton, J.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Garro Jones. G. M.||Messer, F.||Willlams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Montague, F.||Willlams, T. (Don Valley)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Gibbins, J.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Gibson. R. (Greenock)||Muff, G.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Naylor, T. E.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Noel-Baker, P. J.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Oliver, G. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Paling, W.||Mr. Malcolm MacMillan and|
|Mr. MacLean Watson.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Bossom, A. C.||Channon, H.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Boyce, H. Leslie||Charlton, A. E. L.|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead)|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Cooke, J. D (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Cox, H. B. T.|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Croft, Brig.-Gen, Sir H. Page|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Bull, B. B.||Cross, R. H.|
|Barrie, Sir C. C.||Burghley, Lord||Crowder, J. F E.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Butler, R. A.||Davidson, Viscountess|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Campbell, Sir E. T.||Davison, Sir W. H.|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Cary, R. A.||De Chair, S. S.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||De la Bère, R.|
|Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Lewis. O.||Savery, Sir Servington|
|Duggan, H. J.||Liddell, W. S.||Scott, Lord William|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col, J. J.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Lloyd, G. W.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Somervell. Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Maitland, A.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Errington, E.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.|
|Fleming, E. L.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Spent, W. P.|
|Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|Gluokstein, L. H.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Goldie, N. B.||Munro, P.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Gower, Sir R. V.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Peake, O.||Touche, G. C.|
|Grirnston, R. V.||Plugge, Capt. L. F.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Procter, Major H. A.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Horlington, Marquess of||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Hepburn, P. C. T. Buchan||Rankin, Sir R.||Watt, G. S. H.|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Higgs, W. F.||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Howitt. Dr. A. B.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hulbert, N. J.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Hurd, Sir P. A.||Rowlands, G.||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C..|
|James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Royds, Admiral P. M. R.||Young, A. S. L. (Pertick)|
|Joel, D. J. B.||Russell, Sir Alexander|
|Keeling, E. H.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Salmon, Sir I.||Mr. Selley and Commander|
|Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Samuel, M. R. A.||Marsden.|
§ Question put, "That the proposed words be there added."2102
§ The House divided: Ayes, 130; Noes,. 122.2103
|Division No. 12.]||AYES.||[4.8 p.m.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Gower, Sir R. V.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Grant-Ferris, R,||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Grantan-Doyle, Sir N.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Grimston, R. V.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Barrie, Sir C. C.||Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)||Rowlands, G.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Royds, Admiral P. N. R.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Hartington, Marquess of||Russell, Sir Alexander|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Blair, Sir R.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Higgs, W. F.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Savery, Sir Servington|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Scott, Lord William|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Hulbert, N. J.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Bull, B. B.||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Burghley, Lord||James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)|
|Butler, R. A.||Joel, D. J. B.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Keeling, E. H.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Cary, R. A.||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Spens, W. P.|
|Channon, H.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'ld)|
|Chorlton, A. E. L.||Lewis, O.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Liddall, W. S.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Tale, Mavis C.|
|Cox, H. B. T.||Lloyd, G. W.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Touche, G. C.|
|Cross, R. H.||Loyal-Fraser, J. A.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Davidson, Visocuntess||Maitland, A.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Margesson, Cant. Rt. Hon H. D. R.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|De Chair, S. S.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H.||Metier, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)||Watt, C. S. H.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Duggan, H. J.||Munro, P.||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Peake, O.||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Plugge, Capt. L. F.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Errington, E.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Fleming, E. L.||Procter, Major H. A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES. —|
|Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Mr. Selley and Commander|
|Gluckstein, L. H.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||Marsden.|
|Goldie, N. B.||Rankin, Sir R.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Groves, T. E.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Price, M. P.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Hardie, Agnes||Ridley, G.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Riley, B.|
|Barr, J.||Hayday, A.||Ritson, J.|
|Batey, J.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Sanders, W. S.|
|Bevan, A.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Sexton, T. M.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hopkin, D.||Shinwell, E.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Jagger, J.||Short, A.|
|Buchanan, G.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Silkin, L.|
|Cape, T.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Silverman, S. S.|
|Cassells, T.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Smith. Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Charleton, H. C||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Chater, D.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kirby, B. V.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Cove, W. G.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Stephen, C.|
|Daggar, G.||Lathan, G.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Dalton, H.||Lawson, J. J.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Davidson, 1. J. (Maryhill)||Leach, W.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Leonard, W.||Thorne, W.|
|Day, H.||Leslie, J. R.||Thurtle, E.|
|Dobbie, W.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Tinker, J. J.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||McEntee, V. La T.||Viant, S. P.|
|Ede, J. C.||McGhee, H. G.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||MacLaren, A.||Walker, J.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||MacNeill, Weir, L.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Fletoher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Marklew, E.||Westwood, J.|
|Frankel, D.||Marshall, F.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Gallacher, W.||Mathers, G.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Gardner, B. W.||Maxton, J.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Messer, F.||Willlams, T. (Don Valley)|
|George, Major C. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Montague, F.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Gibbins, J.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Woods, C. S. (Finsbury)|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Muff, G.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Noel-Baker, P. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Paling, W.||Mr. Malcolm MacMillan and|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Parkinson, J. A.||Mr. MacLean Watson.|
§ Main Question, as amended, proposed.
§ It being after Four of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.2104
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 2.
§ Adjourned at Eighteen Minutes after Four o'Clock, until Monday next, 15th November.