§ Order of the day for the Second Reading read.
§ * THE DUKE OF WESTMINSTER
My Lords, I have to move the Second Reading of a Bill for giving seats to shop assistants, a Bill promoted by the Early Closing Association, of which Sir John Lubbock is the President, and it is identical with the Bill that was introduced and thrown out from your Lordships' House earlier in the session. After having passed the ordeal of the other House, where it met not only with no opposition, but with universal sympathy, the poor innocent bantling was brought into your Lordships' House, where it received very short shrift, and what I may call its second birth was destroyed with contempt by Lord Shand, and it was scorched and withered away under the breath of the displeasure of the noble Marquess the Prime Minister. Both these Bills have passed the other House without opposition and with cordial approval. I therefore now take up the challenge of the noble Lords, and I must endeavour to show that the Bill for Scotland, which has been thrown out, is fit for England and Ireland, and that this Bill is fit for Scotland also. The noble Lord (Lord Shand) gave two reasons for throwing out the Bill—one, that if it was fit for Scotland it should be fit for England and Ireland, and that the subject-matter was too trivial to be considered by your Lordships' House. As at present public opinion is not in favour of the admission of women to the legislative field, it behoves us all the more to consider questions which vitally affect them. We hold that this measure does vitally affect them, ameliorating as it proposes to do the comfort and health of thousands of working women. Without perpetrating any pun, the question is in every sense of the word of longstanding. It is no new movement. Associations were formed more than twenty years ago for creating public opinion in its favour. There is a great amount of literature bearing upon the question, and a large amount of medical opinion showing that it is a matter that is in want of legislation. I have a letter from the Vicar of St. Paul's, Kilburn, who expresses an 432 earnest hope that your Lordships will pass the Bill, and says that in the course of ten years' experience in different parts of London, he has come across cases in which young girls have to undergo long hours of enforced sentry duty which would provoke a mutiny if imposed upon soldiers of the Line. Only the other day a meeting was held in Oxford, the Master of Balliol in the chair. The room was crowded, and a resolution was passed to the following effect:Seeing the evils of standing during protracted periods, which entail special disabilities and suffering upon girls and women and their offspring, this meeting regrets the action of the House of Lords in regard to the Shop, Assistants' Seats Bill, 1899, and desires to impress upon them the urgency of this important measure.I will, without wearying the House, proceed at once to quote the evidence of Miss Margaret Irwin, in a report for the National Federal Council of Scotland, and quoted by the Commissioners of Labour of 1892 and 1893:My attention has been directed by several medical men of standing and experience, and also by numerous grave complaints from the women assistants themselves, to two causes which, in addition to long hours and close confinement, operate against the health and comfort of women employed in shops. These are—want of seats, and the absence of, or defective, sanitary provisions.The first defect is more common in large shops, where a large number of assistants are employed, and there is abundant evidence to prove that the health of the women workers has sustained serious and, sometimes, fatal injury from the terrible strain involved by being kept standing on their feet throughout the long, weary day they are on duty. Both the medical men and the workers themselves have been unanimous in strongly urging the compulsory provision of seats in one form or another. Numerous cases have been quoted of workers suffering grave injury to their health from the present system, and there is a strong feeling that it should be abolished. As has been more than once said to me, 'If they would only allow us a ledge to rest upon for a minute or two we would be thankful even for that.'Dr. Service, Dr. Edmistoun, and other medical men speak very strongly on the point, and in a formal statement made by them, and embodied in my official Report to the Royal Commission on Labour, they enumerate the serious complications which are entailed by long hours, close confinement, want of regular and sufficient time for meals, bad air, want of seats, and absence of sanitary provisions.The evil results of these are also frequently traceable in the children of women who have been employed as shop-assistants. Dr. Service 433 says: 'Mothers with children of from 1 to 10 or 12 years of age frequently come to us wondering why their children are so delicate. Neither of the parents, nor any of their forbears, are, or were delicate, and they cannot see why their children should be so. But on inquiring, it is found that the mothers worked either in shops, mills, or warehouses under conditions not suitable to sound Health; and debility, slight and unnoticed, takes hold of the constitution, and it is only after some years of married life that the mischief shows itself in mother and children.'An important feature to be taken into account in considering the long hours worked is the high temperature and vitiated atmosphere in many of the shops, especially after the gas is lit. I have found a temperature of 75 deg. and 80 deg. Fahr. registered on my thermometer on visiting some of these shops, with 40 deg. in the outside air.Witness No. 503 is married, and keeps a newspaper shop of her own, which is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. or 12 midnight. Witness stated she would be very glad to close earlier if the other shops did the same. In some of these shops the girls are kept on duty continuously, this is more especially the case where one girl only is employed. The average wage is 10s. per week. In scarcely any of these shops in this district is lavatory accommodation provided. Witness said she knew of drapery shops where the hours are from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and in some cases to 10 p.m., while they are kept open till 11 p.m. and 12 midnight on Saturdays. In these shops the girls are allowed half an hour off for breakfast, and one hour for dinner. Total hours worked per week 82 and 89 (not including meal hours). No seats are provided, and there is no sanitary accommodation. Witness stated that there are frequent cases of girls completely breaking down in health in these shops.The members of that Labour Commission report that there is abundant evidence to prove that most serious results to health have been brought about. Seats are seldom provided; they were found in four out of thirty-three of the London shops at which information was obtained, and in only three in sixty-three in the provinces. The workers who were questioned in Scotland were, without exception, in favour of the compulsory provision of seats, and they regarded the proposal that they might retire to other rooms as impracticable; even where there was plenty of room there were no seats. This holds good in the four or five principal cities of Scotland, from which a general cry arises for legislation. This, my Lords, shows that the ease can hardly be called trivial, and to a certain extent—to a considerable extent I should say—it meets the adverse opinion of the noble Lords. We find that there is a general admission on the part, of the trade in favour of the provision of 434 seats, but in by far the majority of the cases that excellent profession of faith stops there, and the main reason for the non-adoption of the system appears to be the fear of offending customers. They suppose that ladies coming in to do their shopping would be struck with horror at the sight of any shopwoman sitting down, even though she might rise to serve the customer. I think those must be queer customers who can be affected by so slight a so-called offence. There are queer customers all the world over, but I certainly think that their prejudices and fancies ought not to weigh in the scale for one moment against the evil which the present system entails, and one cannot but think that after a time the customers would get used to the custom. I think there can be no doubt that public opinion has had considerable influence in certain localities, certainly in the larger establishments in the West End of Loudon where accommodation, so far as seats are concerned, is provided, and every care is taken of the workers. But we have evidence to show that this care and this consideration do not hold good in the vast majority of shops in the kingdom. We have evidence to show that the mechanical difficulty can easily be overcome. Mr. Ely, of Peckham, a draper who employs forty girls, has adopted a turning seat under the counter, which he assures us, from the experience of six years, answers admirably well, and this system has, we find, been adopted in other shops with marked success. The hours in the East End of London as a rule are much longer than in the West of London, and the objection in the former case is that seats would be impossible because the custom comes in great rushes at late hours, and therefore that it would be impossible to put them up. One cannot but believe that the convenience of seats might easily be availed of at the time when business is more slack and before the rush of the flood. In passing, my Lords, I would like to refer to those countries where by law seats have been provided. This is the case in New Zealand, in Victoria, Australia, in the United States in Connecticut, in Pennsylvania, in Michigan, in Ohio, and in New York, and in Canada in the province of Ontario. It is curious that the Act of 1881 to provide seats in New York was evaded for fourteen years on account of there being no provision for 435 inspection. A Legislative Committee reported in 1895 in favour of inspection, and inspection was accordingly by law established. They used these words:The importance of providing proper seats, and promoting their use at reasonable times, cannot be overestimated.They number one seat to three assistants behind the counter, and now, in towns of over 3,000 assistants, the law is enforced. I am sorry to say that the New York City Council has been in the hands of the Tammany Hall Ring. The President of the Board of Health, who is responsible for the failure to appoint special inspectors, was, it is alleged, one of the very shopkeepers who for fourteen years had defied the law of 1881 by refusing to place seats in his shop. The consequence of this is that the inspection is not carried out. In Ontario Clause 8 of the Act empowers that:The occupier of any shop in which females are employed shall all the times provide, and keep therein, a sufficient and suitable seat or chair for the use of every such female, and shall permit her to use such chair or seat when not necessarily engaged in the work or duty for which she is employed in such shop.The inspector states that:The injury to the health of females employed in workshops, factories, and mercantile establishments, in consequence of their being compelled to be constantly on their feet, is undeniable. In many cases a female can perform her duties just as well sitting on a chair, stool, or bench, as she can standing. To require her to become unnecessarily exhausted, to simply gratify a silly whim, looks too much like tyranny.The inspector goes on to say:I have visited some of the mercantile establishments quite frequently in order to see that the stools, when once provided, are kept in locations available for use by the saleswomen. I have heard no complaint that the privilege has been abused, or that the results have been hurtful in any way to the firm by which it was granted.The Bill whose Second Reading I have to propose prescribes that employers shall provide seats behind the counter, but there is some objection to giving inspectors undue authority. I shall propose in Committee to strike out the words in line 10, "or in such other place as an inspector under this Act may direct." The Bill proposes one seat for every two assistants. We intend to alter that, and make it read 436 that there shall be one seat to every three instead of two. An Amendment will be moved by Lord Ribblesdale extending this English and Irish Act to Scotland. It is purposely elastic; we do not say what form the seat should take, but we leave that to the good sense of the shop people. We hold, my Lords, that in this Bill there is no departure from principle. The question concerned is the health of the community, in which the law has constantly intervened with general benefit. A prominent Member of the Government, a few years ago, in a speech delivered in the Town Hall at Birmingham, in emphatic and strong language, which is habitual to him, said:I say that wherever the health and the happiness of the whole community is at stake, I am prepared to interfere even with that sacred thing, adult male labour. And remember that it is not a new thing. Whenever any proposal of this kind is brought forward we always have the old cry which was brought forward against the Factory Acts. The Factory Acts, in a hundred different ways, interfere with the arrangements between employers and employed, even where the employed are adult males. The same objection applies to the Truck Acts, to the Acts for regulating merchant shipping, and to a hundred different Acts of Parliament, and especially to the whole of those Acts which deal with Irish land legislation. Well, if it be right in these cases, for the benefit of the great majority, to interfere with the absolute liberty of adult males, surely we have got a very strong case for making another exception in the ease of dm shopkeepers.Without any accumulation of evidence or further inquiry, we hold it to be a sufficient proof of the necessity for legislation when, as in this case, voluntary effort has signally failed. Who can doubt that the prolonged hours during which the female assistants arc not allowed to sit down cannot but be productive of injury to the comfort and to the health of thousands of young women, many eventually to become mothers, and, therefore, injurious to the health and vigour of the nation? This is a step in the direction of the prevention of cruelty to women, and as such I beg to commend the Bill to the House.
That the Bill be read 2a."—(The Duke of Westminster.)
§ LORD SHAND
My Lords, as the noble Duke has mentioned that on the former occasion when a Bill on this sub- 437 ject was before your Lordships I ventured to move its rejection, you will not be surprised that I feel it my duty to take the same course upon the present occasion. It is true that the former Bill was made applicable to Scotland only, and that I objected to the invidious distinction which was then drawn between Scotland and the rest of the Empire. I indicated that I regarded the Bill as having been sent up in the nature of a balloon, to see how the wind blew, in view of future legislation of the same character applicable to the whole of the United Kingdom. On that occasion your Lordships unanimously decided that the Bill should be rejected, but practically it was withdrawn with the consent of the House. The measure holy before your Lordships is really word for word the same, and the objections which applied to the principle of the former Bill apply to the principle of this Bill. I had expected that the noble Duke would have given Some explanation as to why this Bill was allowed to go through the House of Commons without a wont being said in its favour, especially in view of the fact that a similar Bill applying to Scotland was rejected in this House. In my opinion, it was due to this House, the former Bill having been presented, discussed, and rejected in this House, that something should have been said by those who were proposing the present Bill, which is identical in terms with the one which was thrown out by this House a few weeks ago. I ventured to express the hope, when I addressed your Lordships on the first measure, that I should not be regarded as wanting in sympathy with shop assistants in moving the rejection of the measure, for during the eighteen years that I had the honour of occupying the position of a judge of the Supreme Court in Edinburgh I spent much of my time and energy in advancing the interests of the very class of people who will be affected by this Bill. I was president of the first mechanics' institute founded in the United kingdom, a school attended by a great number of people of both sexes and of all classes, and I had the satisfaction, on retiring from my position as president, of leaving 3,300 students, as against, 300 when I assumed the presidency. I instance the fact that many thousands of the class for whom this legislation is proposed are reaping the benefit of the education given in that 438 institute, as showing that I am not out of sympathy with the object of this Bill although I am entirely out of sympathy with the methods by which it is proposed. to be carried out. I believe it is quite true, as has been stated by the noble Duke, that an evil does exist in the direction which he has described. I believe from my heart that it is a very bad thing in many cases that young women should be kept standing for long hours without the means of sitting down. But, on the other hand, I think this class of legislation, appropriately called "grandmotherly legislation," will, if adopted, prove very injurious in the future. The figure of the thin edge of the wedge has been so often used that I will change it, and say that, if you allow a small stream of this kind to run quietly past, you will in a short time have a torrent of measures of the same class relating to servants of every kind, and encroaching upon social, commercial, and even domestic life. It has been the pride of this nation that we have been able to do without this kind of legislation hitherto. I hope the noble Duke, and those who think with him, will give me, and those who think with me, credit for full sympathy with shop-assistants, but, still, I think benevolence pursued without proper judgment, however good its objects may be, or upon, methods which are improper, will, like indiscriminate charity, prove extremely mischievous in the result. On that ground, sympathising entirely with the object of the Bill, I would suggest that the measure ought to be rejected. The class of legislation of which this is an instance, is one of which I think we have had too much lately. It involves an unnecessary and mischievous interference with people in the conduct of their business, and that liberty of contract which is a branch of the great privilege of liberty of action. This is an attempt to introduce legislative control in the ordinary affairs of life—commercial, social, and private. It appears to me to be a question of much larger importance than that of providing seats for shop assistants, and my objection to it, as before, is that it is a matter which should be left to voluntary effort, which I am sure would be successful in finding a remedy for the evil. I would further press upon the House that, if such a Bill as this is passed, it will be impossible to forecast the end to which the extension of 439 the principle may lead. I have conceded that something should be done. I would suggest, as a remedy, that ladies should intimate at the various shops where they find there is a want of consideration to the comfort and health of the shop assistants that they will cease to deal at those shops unless the evil is remedied. The result will be that they will, by voluntary effort, secure what you are asking for in this Bill. I find in the Lancet, a copy of which was sent to me by the Association of which the Duke of Westminster is patron, and of which Sir John Lubbock is president, a strong condemnation of the "no seats" rule. The Lancet proceeds:—Can nothing be done to stop this—as we once called it, without the least exaggeration or sensationalism—'cruelty to women'? The women who are most concerned dare not complain for fear of losing their situations. What, then, is the remedy? The publication of our list was productive of good results, but the real prevention of this abuse of labour rests almost entirely with the women who deal with the firms who are cruel to their employees. There are many women, we know, who, alas! have no sympathy with other members of their sex, and who, for the sake of merely passing an idle hour, compel shop-girls to show them article after article, while at the score time they know that their purchase will ultimately be a small one or even nothing. To these we do not appeal, but leave them to be dealt with by the humane, and larger, majority of their sex. To the true woman—the woman with feelings for her sisters, the woman of love and sympathy, the true woman in every sense of the word—we appeal for help in this matter. If such women would abstain from purchasing at shops where they see that employees are compelled to work from morning till night without permission to rest front their labours, even when opportunity occurs, we should soon see the end of a practice which ruins the health and shortens the lives of our shop-girls.I could not better express what I regard as the remedy for the evil of which the noble Duke complains. I find in the Report which the Early Closing Association have issued a long list of firms who immediately acceded to the wish of the Association with regard to the provision of seats. In all 296 business houses, when applied to to provide seats for their assistants, complied with the request, which shows that by such voluntary work, and by the assistance of ladies themselves, the lot of the shop assistant can be improved without infringing on the principle of legislating on matters of this kind, which should be left to the action of those who undoubtedly have 440 sympathy in such matters. I cannot for the life of me suppose that the moment a man becomes a draper or warehouseman he loses all human sympathy and consideration, and is not prepared to look to the benefit of his employees and do his best for them. For the last eight or nine years an association of drapers and others have been by voluntary effort bringing about what Parliament is now asked to do by legislation. The association to which I refer is known as the Voluntary Early Closing Association. They have held meetings every year, and have done a very great deal in this direction. At the last annual meeting the chairman referred to the question why the association came into existence. The reply was that he and Mr. Bryce Grant were originally on the board of the parent institution, and at that time the association was carrying on good work, but when they adopted the policy of legislation to compulsorily close early, he and his friend were obliged to retire from the board, and this also caused the secession of many old members. Hence the "Voluntary" Association was formed, and the success it had met with bore evidence to the fact that the principles of the association were more in accordance with the opinions of the trading classes generally. Another gentleman who spoke at the meeting, said he had it on the authority of Sir John Lubbock that next session strenuous efforts would he made to pass the Early Closing Bill, but that, he said, was a Bill they could not regard with favour. They did not want to be treated as a parcel of children, hut they did want, he added, to lighten the hours of their employees, and that was the object of their association. He believed they were doing a great deal of good in that respect, and especially in those districts where there was most need for it. If by voluntary effort they could bring about early closing they need not, he thought, trouble about the compulsory Bill—a Bill which he believed could easily be rendered inoperative, and which would not recommend itself to the tradesmen of London. I would remind your Lordships that this association is in active work now, and it appears to me that this is the proper manner in which we should expect an evil of this kind to be met. It strikes me that it must be an extremely disagreeable thing for a tradesman to find inspectors coming in and picking holes here and there in his management. I admit 441 that in factories, where there is danger to life, or where noxious gases are used, it may be right for Parliament to interfere and to insist that every precaution is taken; but to say that as to the details of a man's business there is to be legislation of this kind appeals to me to be a very extravagant proposal. For that reason I have ventured to again address your Lordships upon this question. There is another matter on which I should like to say a few words. I refer to the difficulties which are to be expected from an endeavour to carry out the proposals contained in this Bill. If a measure of this kind is passed you will, in my opinion, create much more hostility between employer and employed than exists now. Employers will say that if the Government are going to compel them to do this and that they will stop at the point which the Government have reached, and, instead of evincing a desire to improve the position of their employees, there will be a reluctance to do anything. But there is another point which the House would do well to consider. In a very able letter to The Times, written by a lady who takes very great interest in women's work, the writer expresses the opinion that if you tighten the restrictions that apply to in women in business the result will be that you will crush a great many of them out altogether. I believe that has been the result of the Employers' Liability Bill. For instance, many masters since the passing of that Act have taken care that they will only have healthy, strong men in their employ. If you push this class of legislation into small details, As proposed in this Bill, you will, in the first place, destroy the sympathy of employers with their workpeople, and, in the second place, bring about the dismissal of a number of female shop assistants who are now employed. The Bill bristles with penalties. From the present Bill the following provision, which appeared in the Seats for Shop Assistants (Scotland) Bill, has been judiciously dropped out, but if this Bill passes it will no doubt come up in the course of next year, namely:A female employed as aforesaid shall not be prevented by regulation or otherwise from being seated when not actually engaged in the course of her employment, and shall not be dismissed, nor have her wages reduced, on the ground that she has used the sitting accommodation provided for her, unless it is found she has used it unreasonably often or for an unreasonably long time on any day.442 The Bill then provided that:Every female employed as aforesaid shall be allowed reasonable intervals during which she may use the sitting accommodation required by this Act. Any person failing to comply with the provisions of this Act shall be liable in a penalty of not more than £3 from the first offence, and for a second or subsequent offence not less than £1.I would ask how could anyone sit judicially and decide a question as to whether a female employed had been allowed reasonable intervals during which she might use the sitting accommodation required by this Act, or determine whether her dismissal has been due to the fact that she had used the sitting accommodation provided for her unreasonably often or for an unreasonably long time on any day? It was felt that provisions of this kind were necessary to make the Bill of the slightest effect, and when these provisions are examined it is at once seen that they are ludicrous.
§ LORD SHAND
If the noble Lord will allow me to say so, he leaves the Bill without the power of compelling shopkeepers to give their assistants the benefit of the seat. So long as they provide the seats they will have complied with the Act. There is another Bill before Parliament at the present moment entitled, "A Bill to Amend the Law relating to Shops," in which the very clauses that I have now referred to are included with a number of other stringent regulations of a similar kind. It appears to me that if this Bill should pass the result will be a flood of Bills on exactly the same lines. Indeed, it is clear that such legislation cannot stop at shops. We shall be called upon to consider the case of domestic servants. There are many houses in which the accommodation provided for servants may be said to be injurious to health. They are in some cases supplied with most inferior food, and deprived of holidays; and the principle of this Bill, when once it is sanctioned, must extend to every branch of domestic life. It is impossible to draw distinctions. In conclusion, I would remind the House that we decided the other day precisely the point which is now before us, and I should very much regret if the House were to stultify itself 443 by going back upon its unanimous decision of only a few weeks ago. As there are other noble Lords who will, no doubt, take a different view of the matter, I hope they will confine themselves to what I venture to say is the only issue before us, namely, by what method can an evil of this kind be best cured. I grant there is a mischief which ought to be remedied. I admit that it is an extremely bad thing for girls to have to stand in these places for a long period, and it may be injurious to their health; but this is a class of legislation which has not prevailed hitherto in this country to any extent, and I hope it never will prevail. I therefore move the rejection of the Bill.
THE LORD BISHOP OF WINCHESTER
My Lords, I do not think it was necessary for the noble and learned Lord who has just spoken to explain to the House that the motives which have actuated him and others who have moved with him in this matter are of the highest possible character. No one who is acquainted with the excellent work which the noble and learned Lord was able to do north of the Tweed will doubt what his sympathies are in matters of this kind, and how much he would desire to alleviate the hardships of shop assistants. I would go very far with the noble and learned Lord in objecting to over-legislation in matters which can be described as sentimental grievances. In this case, however, the testimony of medical men is over-whelming in favour of the absolute need of something being done to better the conditions under which the enormous number of shop assistants labour. Of course, we all admit that there are in every class of society, and, above all, among those whose manual labour is hardest, a great number of workers who are suffering from what would seem to us intolerable wrong or grievances, which we are powerless by legislation to meet. The condition of the home seamstress, the trials and troubles of some classes of domestic servants in small and over-pressed establishments, and the condition of the shop assistant's life in other departments than that of which we are speaking to-night, are all things which we admit to be practical difficulties, but difficulties which we feel ourselves perfectly unable to attempt to meet by actual legislation. We must trust to other agencies in those 444 matters. What we who advocate this Bill have got to show is that we are not dealing now with something that is vague, sentimental, or irremediable. We are dealing with a specific evil which is condemned by the indisputable authority of medical men', by arguments that are unanswerable, and for the remedy of which no kind of inquisitorial inspection of shops is required.. The arguments which have been advanced against this Bill were the identical arguments that were urged years ago against the Factory Acts. Had these arguments been allowed to prevail then we should now have had boys working in coal mines, and other things which, thank God, were years ago swept away. The class whose lot this Bill will ameliorate are a far larger class probably than any one of the classes. which were affected by any of the Factory Acts. The number of female assistants in shops is legion, and, while I admit that many of them have no grievances at all, there are tens of thousands of them in regard to whom the evil is getting worse, and the House will not be justified in trusting to kindness and humane feelings for an improvement in their position. Something much stronger is needed. The method which the noble and learned Lord suggested should be employed to bring about the result we desire would resolve itself into a system of boycott. We were, he said, to visit shops, find out how many assistants were employed there, and the conditions under which they were employed. I contend that that would be a kind of inquisitorial inspection far worse than that which would take place under this Bill. Already in a large number of drapery shops in London and throughout the provinces seats are provided, and what we who support this Bill desire is that what has been found practicable in many shops should, under the operation of the law, become the rule in all establishments. When the former Bill was before your Lordships' House the noble Marquess at the head of the Government saidIn such matters as sitting down and standing up we have hitherto trusted to, human instincts, leaving people to manage it for themselves.That is exactly what the Bill proposes. It proposes to allow the shop assistants to stand up or sit down as they please. At present we cannot trust to their instinct, for if they 445 desire to sit down they cannot do so. On a matter of this kind, most of us, I suppose all of us, speak at second hand—I mean that our practical knowledge of the details is exceedingly small. May I say, without egotism, that I have tried to reduce that ignorance on my part to a minimum? I have not only tried to read as much that has been written on the subject as I could, but I have interviewed a number of employers and employed, and also a number of those who have now ceased to be assistants, and whose testimony is therefore specially important when we are dealing with this matter. During the past few weeks I have made surprise visits to several drapery establishments in differents parts of London, and with much profit to myself, and a good deal of innocent amusement to others, I have gone behind counters and held investigations while sales were going on. The result of these experiences is to make it absolutely clear to my mind that specific legislation is needed to ameliorate the conditions under which shop assistants labour. In nearly all the best managed and most successful shops in London seats are provided for the assistants. The conditions of life have been made easier in those shops, the hours have been decreased, and, although there is a conflict of evidence on this point, the wages are in many places much better than they were years ago. If we could trust to this example permeating downwards to the smaller shops I should feel that there was no need for legislation, but we cannot trust to anything of the kind. There is no business in which the division line is more clearly marked between the upper and the lower class of shops than the drapery business, and in the second class shops things are getting worse instead of improving. Wages, instead of rising, have fallen 25 per cent. in those shops during the last ten or fifteen years, and the hours of employment have got longer. Legislation is not possible on these points, but it is possible on the definite question of seats, and I therefore hope your Lordships will give the Bill a Second Reading. I feel for the Kind-hearted employer who has for years done all he possibly could to make the lot of his female assistants as easy and as comfortable as possible, and who may regard this Bill as directed against him as well as against others. I can quite understand 446 his objection to the Bill, but I am bound to say that in many interviews I have had with employers I have not found one who did not admit that there were a large number of others in the trade who did need some compulsion of this kind, and that perhaps, after all, he ought to submit to the inconvenience in order that those who need compulsion might be made to provide seats for their assistants. I think too much has been made of the inspection difficulty. There are at this moment, in every large shop, occasional visits of an inspector under the Shop Hours and other Acts, and the inspection in those cases is of a much more inquisitorial character than would be the case under the Bill. The primary objection to this Bill is that the provision of seats will bring about a lack of smartness in the shops, and that customers will not go in if they see some of the assistants sitting down. Experience has proved that this is not the case, for some of the most successful and some of the smartest shops in London are doing now all that we ask them to do in this Bill. I paid a surprise visit to a shop in the East End of London where eighty girls were employed, and a fourth of them were at the time I entered sitting down. I am not a judge as to the exact attribute of smartness in a shop of this kind, but if it can be judged by the number of persons present, and the progress of a steady business, the provision of seats was not a drawback in this direction. The objection that if these restrictions are placed upon the employment of women men will be employed in their places is, if I may say so with all respect, mere moonshine. An examination of the wage table is sufficient to destroy this theory. There are many trades in England in which restrictions have been placed on women's labour, which have not been placed upon men. Clan any noble Lord mention a case in which that has resulted in women being replaced by men? I refer specially to the textile trades in Lancashire. The ordinary custom in Lancashire has been to pay men and women the same rate of wages, and, instead of women, whose hours are restricted, being driven out, and men, whose hours are not restricted, being taken on, women are said to be ousting men from a great many of the textile factories in Lancashire. That is an example which I would ask those to take to heart who think that women will 447 be replaced by men if this Bill is carried. It is a singular fact that not a single Member of the House of Commons has opposed these Bills. That shows what is the popular wish, and I hope your Lordships will give effect to it. I saw in the public prints that a whip was issued yesterday to vote against this Bill, and in which this question was spoken of as a paltry detail of shop management. I doubt whether those who drew up that document would consider it a paltry detail if they had to undergo the hardships which this Bill was framed to alleviate, or had to remain standing during the whole of this Debate.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The MARQUESS of SALISBURY)
My Lords, when the Scotch Bill was before this House, I endeavoured to point out that one of the most serious objections to it was that, entirely without inquiry, we were entering upon a novel field of legislation, and dealing with matters with respect to which we really bad no knowledge. That same feeling, I confess, presses principally upon me now. I am not prepared to lay down categorically any propositions in contradiction to those that have been so eloquently expressed by the right rev. Prelate, but I say that we have had no inquiry upon the subject; that the evidence that he gives us is his own evidence, or evidence, it may be, of distinguished men, but it is evidence that has not been cross-examined to, and that is what makes the difference between that evidence and the evidence which, in respect of all reforms and all changes that we have made in regard to social questions, has been carefully heard. There has been, as far as I know, except a short, casual allusion in the huge Report of the Labour Commission seven or eight years ago, no public inquiry into this matter whatever. All the statements that are given to us are on one side. I do not for one moment question the integrity and motives of those who make these statements, but you know that men whose minds are occupied with any fervid feeling, philanthropic or otherwise, are apt to lose the judicial balance of their minds, and to give a very exaggerated force to circumstances which do not deserve it, and to neglect circumstances which are essential to a decision on the question. And it is curious that while we 448 have to deal with this question in the entire absence of official, and what I call cross-examined, information, we should also be deprived of the advantages which we usually derive from Debates in Parliament. In respect of this measure, we have not the advantage of the expressed opinion of the Members of the House of Commons. These measures passed, I believe, at a very late hour in the evening, when it is not the custom to hold very long Debates. They were not debated upon at all; they were, no doubt, the subject of very anxious and constant discussion in the Lobbies of the House, but that, very valuable in the formation of the Bills, was of no advantage in testing the information or the arguments of those who supported the Bills, or of allowing the interests that were affected by them to come and plead their case before Parliament. For you must remember, my Lords, that this is a litigation. It is the philanthropic persons and their clients against the employers. I am not saying which is right or which is wrong. Be the employers what they may, they surely have the common right, which every Englishman has, not to be interfered with until their case has been heard and determined. And this is the result of these Bills having been conducted, not in Debates on the floor of the House of Commons, but in those perhaps more potent and less seen discussions which take place in the Lobby. I have tried to find some species of official information upon this Bill, and if I depart from my ordinary custom, and read an extract or two to your Lordships, the blame must be on those who have brought forward this Bill with very little official or authentic information upon it. In the Labour Commission there was one small volume on the labour of women, and there are Reports from the lady Commissioners, Miss Orme, Miss Irwin, Miss Abraham, and, I think, another, giving full replies to a series of questions which were sent down to them from the head Commissioners. It is very remarkable, though the question of seats was in the list of subjects to be dealt with, how very few answers there are in which that question is touched upon. And you will find, as you are going through these Reports, that the question of seats occupies a very small and insignificant position compared to many of those other matters which are dealt with by the lady Sub-Commissioners, 449 and compared to those, I am bound to say, which the noble Duke dealt with himself. He pointed out that there were all kinds of questions—of ventilation, of sanitary appliances, and so forth—which occupied much greater room in the field of objections and complaints. Now, I find that in this little volume there are some allusions to this question, and I think we all agree that there is an evil which we earnestly wish to see remedied. But the particular remedy which is the subject of this Bill is, I think, advocated by no one. Miss Orme says:It seems that the comfort of the attendants does not wholly depend on the existence of seats behind the bar. It is necessary also to consider whether they are allowed to use them, and how long they are on duty without rest. A girl may be far more tired by being in a bar for many hours, even if there are seats, than by standing for a few hours with the prospect of complete rest at a fixed time.Here is another extract from Miss Orme's report:None of the shop assistants I saw desired to have seats behind the counter.None of them desire the remedy prescribed in this Bill.They approve Of seats in show-rooms, where a girl can rest comfortably for five minutes. The witnesses are unanimous in saying that short hours are far more needed than seats.Then Miss Orme says:on the whole, the complaints of the women are entirely about low wages and scarcity of work, except that shop assistants also complain of uncomfortable homes awl long hours.Miss Abraham gives evidence with respect to Ireland, to which this Bill also applies. She says:In very few cases are seats provided in drapers' shops. The want of seats not a matter of general complaint. The sitting-rooms and bedrooms and meal-rooms are considered by shop assistants as matters of much graver importance.Miss Irwin, whose name has been quoted to-night, says:There is admittedly a difficulty in many cases in providing seats, owing to the limited space behind the counter, and there might be a further difficulty in making use of them where they are provided, owing to the steady flow of customers.450 Then there is an extract, which seems to me of singular importance, from Mr. Pollock, who is general secretary of the Scottish Shopkeepers' Assistants' Union—a man, therefore, who would have no employers' prejudices, and who has a great deal of knowledge of the facts. He says:I am not quite clear that it would be practicable to insist on seats being provided behind the counter or at the side of the assistants, because in numbers of cases where girls are employed in selling what are called 'fancies' such as gloves, etc., I believe the introduction of seats would mean serious loss by causing the removal or curtailment of some department from the best business part of the warehouse, and the consequent loss of employment to the girls.Now the right rev. Prelate, speaking almost ecstatically, if you can apply such a term to a draper's seat, said it would be absurd to suppose that the employment of women could be diminished, or women lose their places, in consequence of the insistence upon seats. My impression is that Mr. Pollock, the general secretary of the Shopkeepers' Assistants' Union is, upon this matter, a superior authority, even to the right rev. Prelate. Miss Clare Collet, a lady who is most deservedly much in the confidence of the Board of Trade, says:—I should say that one of the things that strike me in this matter is, that we have hardly any evidence of the opinion of the employers on this question; it is dealt with exclusively as a question between the doctors and the shop-assistant girls.But I would refer you to the evidence of a certain witness before the Commission, whose name I do not give—a draper and a large employer—who stated that his female shop assistants did not work more than 74 hours a week, but that if a Bill were passed limiting their labour to 74 hours he should dismiss them and engage men instead. I have found this evidence as a solitary remnant imbedded in a mass of other information. If, of course, we had information front the other side coinciding with the doctrine of the right rev. Prelate, his views would exercise more influence upon us. But wherever we have any glimmer into the feelings of the employing class, we see it is true that if they are harassed by what they consider undue restrictions and interference, they will dismiss the women and employ men instead. I do not believe it is merely a 451 question of wages, as the right hon. Prelate thinks; I believe in many cases that between the cost of the employment of men and the cost of the employment of women, if you take into consideration not only the amount of the wages, but the nature and the amount of the work done, the margin is very small. But be that as it may, there are also human feelings to be considered, and this interference of Parliament, which is very strongly felt in many quarters, may stimulate employers to angry and resentful action. I see that among those who waited on the noble Duke there was a Mr. Johnson, who protests against the proposed Bill; he was of opinion that legislation was necessary. The Chairman asked:Do you think that without legislation you can touch those in the East-end?"Yes, I do," was the reply. He did not think legislation was necessary, and said they were already waited on morning, noon, and night by inspectors. Now that feeling exists among them very strongly. I have here a letter from a gentleman, a friend of my own, who is very well known probably to everybody in the House—Sir Blundell Maple—and I think I must listen to him even in preference to the right rev. Prelate. The words that he uses are really very moderate, but they are very pregnant, and they show the hazard you would run by legislation of this kind. Sir Blundell Maple says:With regard to this Bill, which is a direct interference with the liberty of the subject, I cannot see that a good and sufficient case has been made out for legislation. It is true that some girls are adversely affected by the occupation of standing and serving in shops, just as many others are adversely affected by occupations of a sedentary and close nature in work-rooms and factories. In many cases the evil is explained by a wrong choice of occupation, bearing in mind the physical powers of the individual girls concerned.Sir Blundell Maple is entirely beyond suspicion or censure in this matter. He goes on to say:My further objection to this Bill is that, if it is passed, it would adversely affect the employment of women in shops.That is the point I wish to impress upon your Lordships.A small shopkeeper would consider that by employing one or more women he would be subject to the visits of the inspector to see if he provided proper and sufficient seats, and all such inspection is intensely distasteful to the retail trader. I believe that to call the Bill 452 into existence would be to endanger the interests of the very persons it is desired to serve.That is why I earnestly press upon your Lordships the duty of circumspection in taking such a step. The great evil, I fear, is that the number of women employed would be diminished, and that the wages of women would go down. The great blot upon our civilisation is the position of the lower class of women. The life they have to endure, the wages with which they have to be content, the terrible temptations to which if they fail otherwise to sustain themselves they are exposed, and the value which their strength and their virtue is to the community to which they belong, make me feel that it is of the greatest possible importance that we should do nothing that would diminish the scanty resources of employment and support which women now possess. They have to run a race bearing a terrible burden. It has been said that their wages are about 10s a week. I have heard it put at rather less, and you will find in the book to which I have referred cases where women are serving for 7s. 6d. or even 6s. a week, having out of that to provide their lodgings and provisions. It is a far more terrible abyss into which they will probably be drawn if they should fail to obtain from the existing state of society the sustenance which they require. Let us be very careful before we diminish the chance of sustenance which they have—before we increase the danger of the entire wreck of their moral and physical nature. I have heard it said again and again that these prophecies were common with the former social Acts, the Acts associated with Lord Ashley's name; but they were not; that is an entire mistake. It is perfectly true that in those days the danger of general non-employment was very strongly before the minds of those who resisted the Acts. But the particular danger here is that you are interfering in a competition already of the fiercest and most relentless nature between men and women; you are pressing down the weaker for the benefit of the stronger. That does not follow the precedent of the former Acts; it is a special danger against which you are bound to guard. It is not sufficient to tell us that in other circumstances and with other pleas of justification fallacies or mistakes were made by the defenders 453 of existing institutions, and that the mistakes have been discovered by time. I do not deny that many mistakes were made, but it does not follow that every argument against a proposal such as this is to be dismissed because other arguments in matters wholly dissimilar have proved to be fallacious. Remember, my Lords, the evidence I have been able to give you. As far as that evidence goes—I do not put it higher than that—there is a real awl substantial danger that by putting these new impediments in the way of retail traders and requiring of them obedience to laws which might be very easily made the instruments of blackmail, you are diminishing the market for women's labour and increasing the gravest difficulty with which modern civilisation has to contend. Am I extreme in asking you that before you do that you should take the ordinary precautions fully to inform yourselves of the circumstances with which you are dealing, and that you should give as much examination to them as you would give to the passing of an Act of Parliament to take away a single field from an individual? It appears to me that in dealing with such grave issues, in treading upon such new ground, it is the least duty which patrotism and public spirit would call upon you to perform. The noble Lord has moved that this Bill he read a second time, and, of course, I can do nothing else, if I am forced to vote, but vote against it. But I do earnestly hope that he will take a wiser course, and that he will withdraw his Bill and will accept our assurance that we will do our best to secure a thorough and searching inquiry next session. By the result of that inquiry I shall certainly adhere, and I shall be very glad if the apprehensions, which I think the circumstances and information that I have obtained justify me in entertaining, should turn out to be without foundation.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
Being an elected member of the London County Council for one of the most populous districts, and having amongst my constituents a large army of these poor shopwomen and girls, it would be simply an act of moral cowardice on my part if I did not raise my voice and express a hope that the House will support this Bill. Three weeks ago the wives and daughters of many of your Lordships acted as saleswomen at the 454 Bazaar at the Albert Hall, in support of one of the London hospitals; and I tremble to think what would happen to them, after the fatigue they experienced, if they had to stand behind a counter from eight to twelve hours a day five days a week, and sixteen hours on Saturday without the possibility of sitting down, which has been provided for the clerks in all the Post Offices under the Government. What answer will your Lordships be able to give to your wives as to your reason for voting against this Bill? Those who vote against it will probably say that in their opinion the Bill is opposed to all principles of political economy; that they were struck by the observations of Lord Shand, when he said that these matters could be put right by voluntary effort, and that if this legislation were adopted other legislation would follow to compel people to supply their servants with macintoshes, goloshes, and umbrellas. They may say that this is the thin edge of the wedge, and that they were much impressed by the weighty speech made a few weeks ago by the Noble Marquess, who asked if your Lordships were prepared to have an army of inspectors examining your houses to see that there were a sufficient number of chairs placed at stated intervals, so that at moments of exhaustion the housemaids might sit down. There now appears to be a change of front. We are told that these evils are admitted, and that there are also other evils which must be inquired into. The Government say that if this Bill is now withdrawn they will examine into the whole subject, and introduce legislation next year. I hope the noble Duke will stick to the Bill and not accept any compromise, and in that way save these hardworking and unprotected women from another twelve months' misery and suffering.
§ THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
I earnestly hope that my noble friend will not accept the proposal of the noble Marquess at the head of the Government, who has held out a challenge which I would like to take up. He has told your Lordships that on this important matter there has been no official expression on the part of the supporters of this Bill in the other House. I undoubtedly agree with the noble Marquess when he says that part and parcel of this evil is the long hours which 455 these unfortunate women have to work, and I do not think it has been sufficiently impressed upon the House that they work eighty-four hours a week in a stuffy and unwholesome atmosphere. But a very distinguished and important member of Her Majesty's Government has already expressed himself very strongly upon this question. Mr. Chamberlain, speaking at a great meeting at Birmingham as long ago as 1892, in support of Sir John Lubbock's Shop Hours Bill said:People of all parties are represented on this platform, and, in their presence, I assert that this question is a question which is more urgent and more important for the welfare of the people than any constitutional changes—whether in Ireland or elsewhere—and that it ought, therefore, to be put in the first rank in any programme, either of the Parliament or of Her Majesty's government.Since that time the right hon. Gentleman has occupied a most important position in her Majesty's Government, but nothing has been done. Those who feel strongly on this subject, as I myself do, are not prepared to allow this matter to be indefinitely shelved. No doubt Sir Blundell Maple is entitled to have an opinion upon this question, but I should like to ask the noble Marquess, and your Lordships, why, if Sir Blundell Maple held these strong views in opposition to this Bill, he did not in his place in Parliament speak against it; and why, if this Bill introduces such novel and dangerous principles as has been stated, the Government, of which the noble Marquess is Prime Minister, and which has almost the largest majority ever possessed by any Government, did not take steps to have the Bill referred to a Select Committee of the House of Commons. The answer is conclusive. The Government did not do it because they dared not. Although I am prepared to respect the individual opinions of noble lords on this question, I maintain, with the greatest respect, that the House will not be acting wisely in ignoring the unanimous opinion of the people, properly expressed through their representatives in the House of Commons. Anyone who has been in the House of Commons knows the great difficulty which is experienced in getting any measure through which is not a Government measure. I received a letter recently from Sir John Lubbock saying that although his Early Closing Bill had 456 passed its Second Reading without any opposition, and had gone through the Grand Committee on Trade, he was not able to carry it further because it had been persistently blocked by the 12 o'clock rule. This Bill, on the other hand, went through the House of Commons without any opposition, and to shelve it now would be a fraud and an imposture to which I will not be a party.
* THE LORD BISHOP OF RIPON
My Lords, I trust the noble Duke will not withdraw this Bill. I cannot help thinking that it is wise and well that we should have the courage to express our opinions on matters of this kind. Arguments have been addressed to your Lordships which must unquestionably have weight with all those who are ready to give a favourable and dispassionate consideration to the matter, and no one will be so audacious as to imagine that the Bill, if passed, will be passed without Amendment. But on the general principle of the Bill I hope we shall have an opportunity of pronouncing judgment. The noble Marquess has said that there is lack of official evidence. I do not pretend to come here as an expert, nor have I taken that pilgrimage of philanthropy which has been taken by my right Rev. Brother, but at the same time I think we ought to remember that this question of seats in shops is part of a larger question which has formed the subject of considerable inquiry in times past. There was an inquiry in 1886 and another in 1895, and these inquiries related to the condition of shop assistants, the provision of seats being touched upon. Those inquiries were open, and employers of labour if they had chosen to give evidence were welcome. The Drapers' Chamber of Commerce is entirely in favour of this Bill, and I claim that that chamber represents a large amount of expert opinion. The associations connected with this movement which have considered this matter are all in favour of the Bill, and it is not on the casual investigation of a few irresponsible individuals that the views in favour of the Bill which have been presented to your Lordships have been arrived at. They are the result of twenty years' agitation and consideration. Therefore I hope that at least your Lordships will go to a Division on the Bill. The fear has been expressed more than once tonight that if you pass this measure you 457 will harass the position of women and reduce their means of employment. It would be a sad and sorry thing to increase the difficulties connected with the employment of women, but I do not believe the Bill will have that result, or that it will injure the interests of shopkeepers themselves. I quite admit that there is a very slight margin of difference between the wages paid to Men and to women in the smart West-end shops, but not so in the shops which will be mainly affected by this Bill. In the West End shops you have the young lady who can command a considerable wage, but when you go to the other class of shops you have to deal with the assistant who can not claim a wage which you would imagine she ought to be able to claim; and my belief is that, in the case of the shops which are specially concerned, the difference between the wages of men and women assistants is such that the shopkeepers will think twice before they dispossess the women and employ men. There are a great many people who attempt to prophesy and threaten evil things when legislation of this kind is proposed, and we know perfectly well that When the factory legislation was first submitted it was said that we should interfere with trade, but this was successfully answered by the startling increase in trade which followed the passing of the first Factory Act. The preservation of health, in the end, is a great economy, and I do not believe the shopowner will find that he is other than the gainer by a Bill of this kind. A fear has also been expressed that a shopkeeper who provides seats for his attendants may lose custom on that ground. I believe, on the other hand, that he will gain custom thereby. I do not think there are any ladies who would be offended because they came across a shop-assistant seated when they entered a shop. Customers leave a shop because of what they call the impertinence or the indifference of the person who is serving them. Is not the apparent bad humour on the part of the shop-assistant largely due to her having been standing for so long a time? When we complain of the ill-temper of those who serve us, we often forget that ill-temper is the result of fatigue mid nervous exhaustion. There will be no loss to the shopkeeper when once it has been secured that those who serve the public, serve them under con- 458 ditions of health which make for good temper and a cheerful, and not reluctant, smile. I would be slow, indeed, to interfere with trade, but wherever an evil which is being suffered likely to touch the vital interests of society at large, then I contend that legislation is fairly justified in interposing. Is this a case of that kind? I venture to say it is. Your Lordships have placed before you evidence of medical men and others, which I ant sure you will not disregard, pointing to the dangers attending the present state of things The tens of thousands of women who are engaged in this shop work represent the potential motherhood of unborn generations. Individual health is not merely the capital of the poor; it is also the national capital, which we cannot afford to dispense with, and in the interests of the national health I ask your Lordships to pause before you reject this measure.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My Lords, I do not think I ought to give a silent vote upon this question, but I shall avoid going into the general topics which have been admirably dealt with by the noble Lords who have spoken in favour of the Bill. I am more disposed to endeavour to deal with the argument used by the noble Marquess in favour of not now proceeding with the Bill, but of relegating the matter to inquiry. I could not help feeling, when I listened to the noble Marquess, that the proposal he made was a very Convenient mode of shelving the question for no one knows how long. The noble Marquess dwelt very much upon the many other evils under which women labour in shops, and upon the necessity of not restricting ourselves to this subject, but of entering upon a general survey of the whole question. General surveys take very long indeed before they bear fruit. One cannot help thinking of the old-age pensions question, which we have had before us for many years, and of many other subjects of the same kind. To-night, however, we have a definite, plain, and simple point before us. Personally, I have no special knowledge on this matter, but I can hardly understand that anyone can doubt that it is a most intolerable thing that large numbers of young women should have no means of sitting down for hours and hours together. I am not a partisan, and I never was in favour of very much interference in small matters of trade. 459 I remember all the discussions which took place upon the factory legislation Every kind of objection was raised by employers of the highest repute to that legislation, for they really and truly believed that if we interfered in the way Lord Shaftesbury and those who acted with him proposed, a fatal blow would be dealt at some of the great industries of the country. We have had the benefit of experience. It has been positively and clearly shown that the legislation, whilst it has prevented some of the greatest, and some of the most cruel evils, has not interfered with the prosperity of the country. In the case of women and children, I think it is amply justifiable that the Legislature should in many cases directly interfere. This is a case of positive cruelty. It is one in which young women grievously suffer. We do not need any inquiry. One of the right rev. Prelates, who has spoken on this subject, asked whether we should like it if we were compelled to stand during the whole of a long Debate; but we are differently constituted to women, and there are fatigues which we can endure, but which are cruelly hurtful to the health of young women. It has been said that a certain number of women might lose employment if this measure passes. Even such a contingency is not to be set against the necessity of preventing the evils which beset the whole class of shop-workers. For these reasons I earnestly trust your Lordships will not relegate this Bill to an inquiry, but that we shall take a Vote upon it. Allusion was made to the fact that not one word was said against the Bill in the other House. Surely, if there had been any strong, powerful feeling against the measure, it would have found expression in the House of Commons. It is so easy to bar
§ the progress of a Bill in the other House, that Sir Blundell Maple or any other Member could have stopped the measure or insisted on its going through its full course. I will only say in conclusion that I trust the noble Duke in charge of the Bill will take the sense of the House upon it.
§ LORD KELVIN
My Lords, I am confident that, if we were convinced that this Bill would be beneficial in its results, persuasive eloquence would not be needed to induce us to vote for it, but I feel that we do not know enough about the subject It is a small and simple issue, utterly unlike the question of old-age pensions The proposal to relegate this Bill to a Select Committee would not mean the indefinite postponement of the Bill, for, if the inquiry shows that it is really necessary, there will be no difficulty in passing the measure next session. On this ground I hope the noble Duke will accept the advice which has been given to him by the noble Marquess. If, however, we are compelled to vote, I shall have to reluctantly vote against the Bill, because I am not absolutely convinced that its results will be beneficial. I do not think it has been sufficiently proved that the Bill will not seriously impair liberty, and introduce evils greater than those which its object is to remedy.
§ THE EARL OF HARDWICKE
I do not rise for the purpose of making a speech, but as I came here with the intention of supporting this Bill I feel bound to say that, after the appeal of the noble Marquess to the noble Duke in charge of' the Bill, I, for my part, shall feel it quite impossible to support the measure.
§ On Question "Whether the Bill be now read 2a"their Lordships divided:—Contents, 73; Not-Contents, 28.461
|Grafton, D.||Cowper, E.||Falkland, V.|
|Richmond, D.||Crewe, E.||Falmouth, V.|
|Westminster, D. [Teller.]||Dartrey, E.||Gordon, V. (E. Aberdeen.)|
|Haddington, E.||Halifax, V.|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn)||Jersey, E.||Knutsford, V.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Kimberley, E.||Peel, V.|
|Bristol, M.||Lauderdale, E.|
|Lichfield, E.||Ripon, L. Bp.|
|Mayo, E.||Winchester, L. Bp.|
|Amherst, E.||Morley, E.|
|Bathurst, E.||Mount Edgcumbe, E.||Aberdare, L.|
|Cairns, E.||Northbrook, E.||Barnard, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Portsmouth, E.||Battersea, L.|
|Carlile, E.||Romney, E.||Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)|
|Carrington, E.||Spencer, E.|
|Chesterfield, E.||Yarborough, K.||Braye, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Kinnaird, L.||Robartes, L.|
|Burghclere, L.||Macnaghten, L.||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)|
|Burton, L.||Manners, L.||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Clonbrock, L.||Monck, L. (V. Monck.)||Stalbridge, L.|
|Coleridge, L.||Monk Bretton, L.||Templemore, L.|
|De Mauley, L.||Monkswell, L.||Thring, L.|
|Farquhar, L.||Muncaster, L.||Wenlock, L.|
|Harlech, L.||Penrhyn, L.||Windsor, L.|
|Hawkesbury, L.||Plunket, L.||Wrottesley, L.|
|Hobhouse, L.||Reay, L.|
|Iveagh, L.||Ribblesdale, L. [Teller.]|
|Halsbury, E. (L. Chancellor.||Dudley, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)|
|Fortescue, E.||Colville of Culross, L.|
|Portland, D.||Grey, E.||Cranworth, L.|
|Waldegrave, E.||Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)|
|Hertford, M.||Glanusk, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Llandaff, V.||Kelvin, L.|
|Pembrokeand Montgomery, E. (L. Steward.)||Ashbourne, L.||Norton, L.|
|Bagot, L.||Shand, L. [Teller.]|
|Dartmouth, E.||Brampton, L.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.) [Teller.]|
|de Montalt, E.||Calthorpe, L.|
§ Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House Thursday next.