HL Deb 23 July 1883 vol 282 cc121-5

Bill read 3a (according to Order).

On Question, "That the Bill do pass?"


proposed to add to Sub-section 3 of Clause 7, as an Amendment, the following Proviso:— Provided always, that this sub-section shall not apply to adult males employed in white-lead factories. The noble Earl remarked, that this Amendment raised a question which caused considerable discussion when the Bill was in Committee—namely, whether the provisions of the Bill should extend to adult labour—and on that occasion an attack was made upon an Association with which he was connected—the Property and Liberty Defence Association. That Association was not of a Party character, and it had been formed because the legislation of the last few years had given rise to the notion that it was necessary that something should be clone to safeguard individual liberty, and protect property from confiscation. This Bill was promoted for a sanitary purpose to render a very noxious trade less hurtful to those who engaged in it. Nothing could be further from the intention of the Association to which he had referred than to countenance the doctrine that the public health was not a proper subject for the State to legislate upon. There were many cases in which the State ought to interfere, such as where a person was carrying on a trade which was a nuisance to the whole neighbourhood. In such cases the State proceeded upon the principle that no man was entitled, in his pursuit of gain, to endanger the lives of his fellows. These were legitimate cases for the interference of the State, provided the State could interfere effectively. The recent Mines Regulation Act and Mr. Plimsoll's Merchant Shipping Act were instances in which the State had interfered, though those Acts had not met with the success that had been anticipated. So much for the general question. He would now address himself to the particular point to which he wished to call the attention of their Lordships, and which was altogether an individual matter, involving, not the general subject of the public health, but the conduct of each particular workman. Looking at it in that point of view, he should say it was the first Bill ever introduced into Parliament which proscribed how a man should be dressed, what kind of boots he should wear, how he was to wash and brush himself, and what beverage he should drink. All that was perfectly novel and lay outside the scope of legislation. The noble and learned Lord sitting on the third Bench opposite (Lord Bramwell) justified the proposal, not on the ground of the workman's health, but in order to prevent his coming upon the rates, when the rateyayers would have to pay for his care and nursing. If that argument were to be followed, it would be necessary to have an Inspector to look after the workman night and day to see that he did not do anything which might load to his being thrown upon the rates. In fact, if the Bill passed in its present shape the state of things would be this—that a full-grown English workman would be subject to be examined as to his dress, his habits, and his drink. Nay, more; the Bill provided that the Secretary of State might make special rules, which were to be complied with with the same amount of obedience as were the requirements of the Schedule. Whoever did not act up to these requirements and special rules would at once become a criminal, liable to be called upon to pay a fine of £2, or else be sent to prison. It should be noted that by a disregard of the rules in the Bill a workman could only jeopardize his own health, and could in no way harm that of the community. If the programme shadowed forth by a Cabinet Minister, who hailed from Birmingham, and who appeared to ride roughshod over his Colleagues and everybody else—if that programme were realized, and the working men had complete control over the situation, they would certainly never assent to such provisions as were contained in the present measure; and on those grounds he submitted his Amendment for the acceptance of the House.

Amendment moved, At end of Clause 7 to add ("Provided always, that Sub-section (3) shall not apply to adult males employed in white-lead factories.")—(The Earl of Wemyss.)


said, he did not wish, in the slightest degree, to wring the noble Earl's withers, and he wished him every possible success in establishing on a firmer basis than they had managed to do in this country the principles of liberty and the rights of property. At the same time, there were noble Lords in whose efforts in the cause of liberty he had more confidence than in those of his noble Friend on the Cross Benches. There were clearly cases in which it was within the province of the State to prevent a man from becoming, not only a burden to himself, but a burden to others; and, in his opinion, the case with which the Bill dealt was one of them. That the proposed regulations were necessary was proved in many ways. He had received a copy of the finding of a Coroner's Jury in the case of a woman whose death was ascribed to the result of a neglect of such regulations as the Bill would enforce. The regulations to which the noble Earl objected were observed in all the best white lead factories already; and the Home Office authorities had sent a copy of the Bill to every employer engaged in the particular trade to which it referred, and not one objection had been made to it. It would be a great evil to encourage the burden to the poor rates caused by the persons disabled in white lead factories, owing to the absence of these essential yet simple precautions. The noble Earl's Amendment, he might remark, did not extend to women, who, if they were convicted of failing to observe the provisions of the Act, would still be liable to a penalty. He trusted their Lordships would not sanction the Amendment.

On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 11; Non-Contents 36: Majority 25.

Resolved in the negative.


moved an Amendment which, he said, would be of some importance in its bearing upon Scotland as regarded the employment of children. Under the Act of 1878 children were employed ill the morning or the afternoon set, and the time was regulated by the dinner hour, which in England practically came to 1 o'clock. Now, in Scotland, there were certain factories where the dinner hour was 2. or 3 o'clock; therefore, the compulsory division of the day in the manner now prescribed had been found to be attended with some inconvenience, He proposed that the division in the eases he had alluded to should be made at 1 o'clock.

Moved, in page 4, after Clause 14, to insert as a new clause— (Amendment as to period of employment of children in certain cases.) Notwithstanding anything in section twelve or section fourteen of The Factory and Workshop Act, 1878, the period of employment for a child in an afternoon set in a factory or workshop, where the dinner-time does not begin before two o'clock in the afternoon, may begin at noon; provided that in such case the period of employment in the morning set shall end at noon."—(The Earl of Camperdown.) Clause agreed to.


moved, in Clause 15, to insert words which would enable the local authorities or au Inspector, by express permission, to license a werkshop underground. He said that a well-ventilated place underground might be better than a stuffy little shop abeve ground. The Amendment was perfectly harmless, because there was nothing in the Bill to compel either the local authorities or the Inspector to grant a licence.

Amendment moved, Clause 15, page 4, line 21, after ("lawful") insert ("without the express permission of the local authority of the district or an inspector.")—(The Earl of Pembroke.)


said, the Government could not agree to the Amendment. He thought that the matter ought to be decided in ono way. It was not desirable to leave it to the local authorities, who might give different decisions.


supported the Amendment.


observed, that when they found so much inconsistency in high quarters on the subject of the Contagious Diseases Acts, they need not be very much alarmed at the notion of a few local authorities coming to different decisions as to the exact description of places to be sanctioned.


said, that no answer had been given to the argument of his noble Friend that a well-ventilated place below ground might be better than a stuffy little shop abeve ground.


said, that he was willing to strike out "the local authority" from his Amendment, and to confine the power of sanctioning the places in question to the Inspector.

On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 18; Not-Contents 28: Majority 10.

Cowper, E. Bramwell, L.
Devon, E. Forester, L.
Fortescue, E. Hopetoun, L. (B. Hopetoun.) [Teller.]
Milltown, E.
Pembroke and Montgomery, E. [Teller.] Leconfield, L.
Lyveden, L.
Radnor, E. Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)
Redesdale, E.
Sandwich, E. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Tredegar, L.
Lifford, V. Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)
Selberne, E. (L. Chancellor.) Aberdare, L.
Boyle, L. (E. Cork, and Orrery.) [Teller.]
Bedford, D. Breadalbane, L. (E. Breadalbane.)
Grafton, D.
Westminster, D. Carlingford, L.
Carrington, L.
Derby, E. Hatherton, L.
Ducie, E. Hothfield, L.
Granville, E. Howth, L. (E. Howth.)
Kimberley, E. Leigh, L.
Morley, E. Monson, L. [Teller.]
Northbrook, E. Mostyn, L.
Saint Germans, E. Ribblesdale, L.
Shaftesbury, E. Robartes, L.
Thurlow, L.
Sherbrooke, V. Wrottesley, L.
Resolved in the negative.